Co-production among product communities has turned out to be a major challenge for the software industry. There is a growing need for evolutionary development strategies sup-plemented by means of interweaving software production and software use more efficiently. In this scenario, the Internet offers a ubiquitous transportation infrastructure for digital products, and impacts the communication culture. However, opportunities to mediate between consumption and production (needs and solutions respectively) within software communities are under-investigated, empirically, theoretically and in terms of design methodologies.
Framing the design issue to enable new forms of co-production, I investigate in the first part of my thesis the corresponding theoretical problem of mediating innovation development. From a Marxian understanding of appropriation, I show how philosophical, sociological, and technological aspects of mediation are related to each other in the case of innovation development. Moreover, the diverse theoretical positions in Design Science research suggested in literature can be compared in respect to the question of mediating needs and solutions. Regarding this question, I develop a personal Pragmatistic position rooted in a dialectical understanding of praxis, which synthesizes different non-positivistic streams in IT research (especially Wulf/Pipek, Orlikowski, Suchman, Star, and Rit-tel/Webber).
My theoretical studies imply a paradigm shift in user-centered innovation research. Com-plementing studies on individual motivations for user innovations, my thesis uncover the work structure of making wicked situations accountable across social worlds to generate situated innovations. From this position I figure out the role of the socio-material artifact as a boundary object mediating distributed appropriation and production.
In the second part of my thesis I demonstrate how the analysis of wicked situations can be interpreted in terms of design. I present my concept of Appropriation Infrastructure, which is a novel design solution for interweaving distributed production and use, based on the specific qualities of digital products. Implementing a first instance of Appropriation Infrastructures, I follow a user-centered approach that supports the appropriation work in its situated and social dimension. In the tradition of End User Development (EUD) it supports users to change the material and the symbolic construction of software artifacts and - going beyond traditional EUD approaches - to articulate these situated development across product communities. In my solution, EUD-tools are interwoven in the context of a wicked situation to inquiry into the situation as well as in the design of situated innovations. Here, the artifact present-at-hand serves as a boundary object to mediate and translate a diversity of meaning constructions and to make the innovative potential of a wicked situation accountable. To support the situational talk-back of the user as a reflective practitioner thinking about wicked situations, rooms for private conversations are offered and options are provided to integrate colleagues and friends, as well as a public product community. I have evaluated this first instance of Appropriation Infrastructure by means of a long-term study focused on users and designers and their mediated activities.
Taken as a whole, my thesis presents a theoretical model of appropriation and a technical solution for appropriation support, which shows how non-positivistic Information System research can be combined with Design Science research to support new forms of co-production within software communities.