Storytelling and the development of discourse in the engineering design process

Lloyd, Peter (2000). Storytelling and the development of discourse in the engineering design process. Design Studies, 21(4) pp. 357–373.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0142-694X(00)00007-7

Abstract

Engineering design is often perceived as a mainly technical activity yet within the engineering design organisation it really only coheres as a social activity. This paper describes a study of engineering design as a social activity in a small design and manufacturing organisation, using the social scientific method of ethnography. Ethnography is characterised by detailed observation of social groupings and close attention to empirical, and mainly qualitative, data. The paper explains how social experience is acquired and used in the design process through the mechanism of storytelling, and concludes that ethnography can provide considerable insight into behaviours that are usually ‘taken for granted'. Storytelling appears to be a central mechanism in the development of a common language in design teams. Something that is often thought to be a useful indicator of good design.

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