The purpose of this work is to make a distinction between supportive and operative information systems. The overall aim is to find and argue for a methodology approach which is relevant for designing supportive information systems.
The focus of this work is on the fundamental philosophical conditions for a methodology that can be used for designing supportive information systems. The analyses are founded on works by James G. Miller, John P. van Gigch and C. West Churchman, which means that living systems theory, the metamodeling approach, according to van Gigch, and Churchman's inquiring systems have been used to highlight epistemological considerations that this sketch of a methodology is based on.
Two kinds of information systems have been stressed: operative and supportive information systems. The differences between them are described and their distinction has been accomplished by using, i.e. Miller's theory. The methodology approach bears a strong resemblance to that of system design, according to van Gigch, and that of interactive planning, according to Russell L. Ackoff. The following phases of a sketch of a methodology for designing supportive information systems have been identified: identification phase, specification phase, design phase, and implementation phase.
The different conditions for designing operative and supportive information systems are described. An epistemological contribution related to the basis for a methodology is given. The value of the paper is that it emphasises that the selection and development of a methodology is not a trivial matter.
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