Design as knowledge integration capability

Carlisle, Ysanne and Dean, Alison (1999). Design as knowledge integration capability. Creativity and Innovation Management, 8(2) pp. 112–121.



The design literature offers two design process models as alternatives for acquiring and using knowledge in design. The best established is the rational problem solving model which calls for technical recommendations. The reflective practitioner model is appropriate to softer, controversial issues that call for ideological prescriptions. We view these models as complementary, not alternative, strategies which can assist in understanding knowledge integration in the design process. This paper offers a more holistic perspective upon design than that commonly found in the Design Studies literature. Our conceptualisation of design as knowledge integration capability suggests that effective design decision making integrates knowledge contributions and reconciles disparate values to a common purpose. The quality of design decision making increasingly depends on the effective integration of knowledge from a range of sources. This is especially true in the knowledge intensive sectors which we have studied. We offer illustrations from biotechnology and note that technical knowledge inputs can not alone ensure a successful outcome. This has implications for the management and practice of design in multidisciplinary project teams.

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