Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 75-90

First online:

Choosing Between Competing Design Ideals in Information Systems Development

  • Heinz K. KleinAffiliated withThe Fox School of Management Temple University Email author 
  • , Rudy HirschheimAffiliated withUniversity of Houston, Houston, TX. 77204-6282

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Whenever information systems are developed, they serve some interests at the expense of others. Just what those interests are and who possesses them need to be understood and debated as they involve value judgments. This paper contends that advice concerning the design of information systems must not be limited to technical design, but should also address what is good or bad, or right or wrong in any particular situation—a notion termed a design ideal. The paper offers an approach on how such value judgments involving competing design ideals may be approached in a rational way. This necessitates the adoption of a wider concept of rationality, one, which allows the insights of critical philosophical analysis to be brought to bear on the question of how information systems can best serve all project stakeholders. In order to address likely objections to our proposal, the conclusions discuss several research issues.

design ideals information systems development value choices value conflicts barriers to rationality