6.12 Bødker, K. ,F. Kensing, and J. Simonsen (2011): "Participatory Design in Information Systems Development", in H. Isomäki and S. Pekkola (Eds.): Reframing Humans and Information Systems, Springer, p. 115-134.


This chapter deals with IT design in an organizational setting - be it a medium sized service company, a large industrial company, a small entrepreneurial knowledge company, or a public company or institution. In such work settings we often find a complex organizational structure, including several management levels, diverse professional groups, workplace cultures, and established working relations where new IT projects challenge the established ways-of-working. This is also the domain of ‘classic’ information systems development (ISD) approaches. This chapter presents the principles, key ideas, and experiences from using the participatory design method known as the ‘MUST method’ (MUST is a Danish acronym for initial participatory design activities), developed by the authors (Bødker et al., 2004).

Iivari et al. (2009) identify three fields where system development has been the topic of research: Software Engineering (SE), Information Systems (IS), and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). User involvement has not been the topic of research in SE, but the topic is well researched in IS and HCI. However, Iivari et al. (2009) note as an important aspect that the literature is not clear on how user involvement should be integrated with current approaches to system development: While agile methods include ways of incorporating customer requirements, Ballejos and Montagna (2008) demonstrate that they fail to support stakeholder identification; DeMichelis et al. (1998) show limitations towards the design and management of organizational change; and Coughlan and Macredie (2002) illustrate insufficiencies in negotiations of requirements between different stakeholder and user groups.

In this chapter, we describe the participatory design approach, presented by Bødker et al. 2004, illustrating how to engage which users in what type of design activities.