A pattern-based approach for constructing design theories with conceptual models

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Association for Information Systems


In this paper we outline a new approach for constructing design theories in IS research by formulating theoretical statements as conceptual models. In recent history the philosophical and methodological aspects of design research have been in the focus of many research groups in IS research. We argue that applying conceptual models in the theory-building process enables design researchers to express hypotheses and underlying assumptions more accurately. Furthermore, our approach allows researchers to specify empirically refutable statements. We ground our work in the concept of IS design theories as proposed by Walls et al. (1992) and extend their idea twofold: first, based on an analysis of the output types of design research as proposed by March & Smith (1995) we incorporate conceptual modeling to formulate theory statements. Second, to facilitate developing concise testable theory statements, we apply the idea of patterns as proposed by Alexander (1973). Overall, we propose a detailed framework that integrates conceptual modeling in the process of theorizing in design-oriented IS research. Thus, we present an important step towards building “own” theories of IS research.


15th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 07)