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Participatory Government – A Design Perspective

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We are in the midst of a renewed effort to understand the meaning and
relevance of design in management across the private and public sectors and
in different economic, social, technological and environmental contexts.
Forms and manners of participation in designing and in design decisionmaking
are relevant to each of these areas but perhaps are nowhere as
consequential as in policy-making and policy implementation by democratic
governments. In this exploratory paper, I trace attitudes towards
participation in public planning to compare them with concepts of
participation in participatory design and in design education and practice.
I show that participatory approaches in all three areas have evolved from
questions of power. As a consequence, participation is still viewed by many as
a struggle over power with winners and losers. I argue that a humancentered
design perspective on participation in policy-making and in policy
implementation offers a way to sidestep power issues and to focus on actual
gains that benefit citizens as much as it aids planners and public
organizations. To illustrate the way everyone can win from a human-centered
design approach to policy-making and policy implementation, I explain how
the design of a walker for the elderly links to the design of policies.


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


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