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Redesigning Assumptions: Challenging public problem spaces

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Christian BASON


Managers in the public sector are increasingly looking to design to help them
drive innovation in policies and services. Design is brought in from external
consultancies but also established as an internal capacity through hiring
designers into government departments and agencies, or by establishing
innovation labs or studios. However, when design is applied in any organizational
setting, a complex interplay arises between design methods and processes on the
one hand (design practice), and the manager's actions and decisions on the other
(management engagement with design). What characterizes these dynamics in a
public sector context? Inspired by Boland & Collopy's (2004) and Michlewskis
(2008, 2014) concept design attitude, this paper explores how public managers
relate to design approaches as an innovation tool. In particular, the paper
examines the potential role of design in allowing public managers to challenge
their own current assumptions about the problems their organization is facing.
Which methods and approaches seem to trigger new insights into the problem
and opportunity space? How does the attitude, or engagement, of the public
manager matter to the process? The research is based on data from qualitative
interviews with public managers in five different countries and policy contexts.


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


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