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Designers and Environmentally Sustainable Design in a Business Network

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Designers and Environmentally Sustainable Design in a Business Network: a case study on the development of a passenger ship 


Pekka MURTO and Oscar PERSON


Designers are often seen to hold a central role in improving the
environmental impact of products in literature on sustainable design. Yet,
there is limited research on the practical possibilities for designers to cater to
such a role. The role of designers is particularly poorly understood in the
context of product development where activities, actors and resources are
distributed across multiple companies and suppliers in a network.
In this paper, we address this gap in research through a case study on the
work of designers in a networked development project for a passenger ship
where significant environmental improvements were made. The results of the
study problematize the role of designers in environmentally sustainable
design. Designers addressed sustainability in the early phases of the project.
However, from the perspective of design, the work in the early phases came
to have limited influence on how the environmental improvements of the ship
were realised in the later phases of the project. Based on our results, we
discuss what impact designers potentially can have on sustainability
improvements in networked development projects. 


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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