Shaping the socially defined artefact:a design perspective

Herfurth, Lorenz (2013) Shaping the socially defined artefact:a design perspective. In: Participatory Innovation Conference, 2013-06-182013-06-20.

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This conceptual working paper communicates findings from a research project which is designed to further the understanding of consequences for design when organisations themselves are understood as artefacts. I set out to learn from real-world practice what it means to shape a social artefact – an organisation. Based in notions of organizations as human made artefacts and the extended application of design to social contexts, this research inquires into ways in which stakeholders participate in processes of organising. Firstly I will give a brief overview of the dilemma we face when defining an organisation as artefact with specific, design relevant attributes. Secondly, this artefact is changing towards less clearly defined structures (Balogun & Johnson 2004; Taylor 2011). As I will refer to below, these changes are relevant when considering the relationship between design and the organisation. Scholars have proven that design and design thinking can help inform and shape core functions of an organisation, like a.o. management (Boland & Collopy 2004), strategy (Liedtka 2004) or change (Junginger 2008). Still, it seems that these debates assume a rather monolithic understanding of organisations. The research I am presenting is qualitative and makes use of a mix of methods within this paradigm. Two case studies provided a real-world context of distributed and emergent organisational structures. Based on assumptions derived from an initial phase of grounded data analysis, I am using two specific themes to find out why and how people design the social activity of shaping an organisation. Motivation and intentionality are used as design-relevant concepts to identify dimensions of design in the social process of shaping organisations. This thematic approach to data analysis is based on notions within Human-Centred Design theory (Krippendorff, 2008).

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Contribution to Conference (Paper)
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Participatory Innovation Conference
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18 Oct 2013 12:46
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 14:01