Lynn Pippenger Hall

17th International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology

June 1-3 June 2022
St. Petersburg, FL, USA

Conference Theme - The Transdisciplinary Reach of Design Science Research

Today’s world faces many complex challenges (i.e. wicked problems) that offer no easy solutions. Inter-related economic, environmental, social, political, and ethical drivers emphasize the need for a changing research landscape quite different from the disciplinary framing found in current institutional structures and processes. The sundering of disciplinary walls has been widely advocated but rarely achieved in the academic research communities. We seek a new frame of transdisciplinary research that transcends disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and cross disciplinary models to truly synthesize research disciplines in search of innovative solutions (Bernstein, 2015).

Descriptions of transdisciplinary (TD) research have been proposed but a definitive definition remains a work in progress (Russell et al. 2008; Jahn et al. 2012; Bernstein 2015). At the core there are three key characteristics that stand out in all working descriptions (Wickson et al. 2006):

  • Problem Focus – TD research starts with a real-world wicked problem that impacts real people. This presents a major challenge to capture and represent the complexities of the problem space in order to support both relevant and rigorous solutions. A single discipline does not own the problem.
  • Emergent Research Methods – The goals of TD call for the construction of novel research methods or the novel combination of disciplinary research methods as a process of emergence during investigation of the research problem. An iterative and incremental TD research process supports the selection and fusion of the most appropriate research methods as the research evolves.
  • Collaboration – The richness of TD research requires active participation from the full variety of problem stakeholders: researchers, practitioners, clients, managers, and community members who are impacted by the designed solution. Knowledge, wisdom, and creativity are maximized via a collaborative process in pursuit of balanced and satisfactory solutions.

The appropriateness of Design Science Research (DSR) to serve as an epistemological and methodological foundation for transdisciplinary research can be seen by matching the concepts, methods, and processes of DSR and Action Design Research (ADR) to the key TD characteristics above. The unique mix of creative design to solve relevant problems and rigorous science to grow theory around the intervention and use of the novel solutions provide a compelling frame for transdisciplinary research projects (Shneiderman, 2018).

Thus, the theme of DESRIST 2022 challenges the DSR community of researchers from many diverse disciplines to engage in more relevant and rigorous transdisciplinary projects. The suggested research tracks listed below are meant to move beyond traditional disciplinary siloes. Research papers, panels, workshops, and prototypes will be encouraged to demonstrate the TD characteristics of problem focus, emergent research methods, and rich collaborations of stakeholders for the solution of complex and wicked problems. DSR makes a difference.


  • Bernstein, J. (2015) Transdisciplinarity: A Review of Its Origins, Development, and Current Issues, Journal of Research Practice (11:1), Article R1, 20 pages.
  • Jahn, T., Bergmann, M., and Keil, F. (2012) Transdisciplinarity: Between Mainstreaming and Marginalization, Ecological Economics (79), pp. 1-10.
  • Russell, A.W., Wickson, F., and Carew, A. (2008) Transdisciplinarity: Context, Contradictions, and Capacity, Futures (40), pp. 460-472.
  • Shneiderman, B. (2018) The New ABCs of Research: Achieving Breakthrough Collaborations, Oxford University Press.
  • Wickson, F., Carew, A., and Russell, A.W. (2006) Transdisciplinary Research: Characteristics, Quandaries, and Quality, Futures (38), pp. 1046-1059.