Exploring the use of design thinking in large organizations: Towards a research agenda

Title: Exploring the use of design thinking in large organizations: Towards a research agenda
Author: Lisa Carlgren, Maria Elmquist & Ingo Rauth
Affiliation: Center for Business Innovation,Department of TechnologyManagement and Economics,Chalmers University ofTechnology, Gothenburg,Sweden
DOI:  10.3384/svid.2000-964X.14155
First published: 2014-05
Year: 2014
Pages: 23-32
Number of pages: 9
Language: English

SVID, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation/Linköping University Electronic Press, Linköping University, Sweden

Publication type: Journal article
Journal: Swedish Design Research Journal
ISSN: 2000-964X

Keywords: Design thinking, Innovation, Large organizations.


In managerial debates, design thinking (DT) is promoted as a user-centered approach to innovation, suggesting that any firm could learn from the practice of designers. Still, it is unclear how DT relates to design in general, and to the design profession in specific. Previous work on DT is mainly theoretical, and empirical investigations of how DT is used in organizations are needed in order to better understand the concept in relation to existing theories.

This paper reports the findings from an exploratory study of the use of DT in large organizations from four industries: software, product, service and healthcare. Based on qualitative interviews with key informants in 16 firms, a wide spread in terms of how DT was perceived and used in a variety of organizational settings is described. This puts focus on the use of DT as well as the importance of the local context.

The paper contributes to an increased empirical understanding of DT, and proposes a research agenda.

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