Understanding design as a multiagent coordination process: distribution, complexity, and emergence

Alexiou, Katerina (2011). Understanding design as a multiagent coordination process: distribution, complexity, and emergence. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 38(2) pp. 248–266.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1068/b35099

Abstract

Design is increasingly perceived as a social process that involves the participation of multiple agents with multiple, and often conflicting, needs, knowledge, and goals. It is proposed here that the notion of coordination is an apposite concept for capturing the social distributed character of design and for reconciling social and cognitive perceptions of design activity. Coordination places emphasis on issues of interdependency, complexity, and distribution, and facilitates the understanding of design by including notions of collaboration as well as conflict. Additionally, coordination is used to capture the generative, creative aspects of design. In this study I use insights from complexity science to offer an understanding of coordination as a process that entails the emergence of collective design solutions.

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