Design Management Academy 2017 Hong Kong

Track 6.c Design teams in the pursuit of innovation

*Daniel Graff, Loughborough University London, UK
Mark Clark, American University, USA
Alice Comi, Kingston University, UK
Fan Fei, Tongji University, China
* contact:

This track invites research that explores how design teams engage in knowledge work as they pursue innovations (e.g., in products, services, or business models), or search for innovative solutions to problems of organizing, managing, or strategizing. To address this, we invite contributions from different disciplinary perspectives – including, but not limited to, design studies, management and organization studies, and psychology (social or industrial-organizational).

The basis for research in this track includes previous work which has shown that the integration of knowledge in functionally diverse teams poses considerable challenges, including a lack of clarity on how design features and performance are related (Stewart, 2006). This work has adopted two main opposing perspectives to describe the positive and negative outcomes of teams’ attempts at knowledge integration: the negative perspective highlights social categorization processes, which increase the potential for team conflict. The positive perspective builds on information processing theory, which states that the enlarged knowledge pool should enable the team to make better decisions (Mannix & Neale, 2005). However, team members often struggle to integrate each other’s perspectives. The processing of knowledge requires teams to not only understand each other’s perspective, but also integrate them in an innovative outcome. Different epistemological beliefs, concerns, and languages make information processing very difficult. This track explores traditional divides between positive and negative perspectives, and instead to enhance our understanding of how design teams integrate knowledge and innovate in practice (Nicolini, Gherardi, & Yanow, 2003).

For example, questions may include:

Which processes do design teams employ to identify, share and apply their (diverse) knowledge bases?

How do design teams achieve an understanding of where knowledge critical to their work resides?

How do certain methods/ practices (visual practices, material practices, verbal practices, analogical or metaphorical communication, implicit or explicit coordination) shape knowledge work and innovation outcomes in design teams?

In complex and uncertain environments, how do design teams form and structure themselves for agility and adaptability?

Indicative References

Buchanan, R. (2015). Worlds in the making: Design, management, and the reform of organizational culture. She Ji, the Journal of Design Economics & Innovation, 01, 5–20. doi: 10.1016/j.sheji.2015.09.003

Hinsz, V., B., Tindale, S., R., & Vollrath, D., A. (1997). The emerging conceptualization of groups as information processors. Psychological Bulletin, 121(1), 43–64. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.121.1.43

Mannix, E., & Neale, M. A. (2005). What differences make a difference?. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 6(2), 31–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-1006.2005.00022.x

Nicolini, D., Gherardi, S., & Yanow, D. (2003). Knowing in organizations: A practice-based approach. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Stewart, G. L. (2006). A meta-analytic review of relationships between team design features and team performance. Journal of Management, 32, 29–54. doi: 10.1177/0149206305277792