Reorienting and sustaining design and social innovation: Insights from Asia-Pacific practices

Tjahja, Cyril (2019) Reorienting and sustaining design and social innovation: Insights from Asia-Pacific practices. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This research study investigates what constitutes design and social innovation initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. Field research conducted in in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur led to the construction of sixteen case studies, which revealed a broad diversity of design and social innovation practices. Activity Theory was used as a framework for data collection, allowing stakeholders involved in these initiatives to share their insights and experiences within their respective local contexts. Their insights were subsequently analysed using thematic analysis, leading to the identification of three key themes.

The first theme highlights the disparity between how design and social innovation is framed in academic discourse and how it is perceived by various groups of stakeholders and actors. The second discusses the tensions surrounding the designer’s role in social innovation. The third out the challenges and inherent paradoxes of sustaining design and points social innovation initiatives. These findings form the basis for recommendations to reposition design in social innovation practice, a reimagination of the role of the designer in the process and a set of pragmatic objectives that can help sustain initiatives who are operating ‘in the wild’.

The contribution of knowledge of this research is that design and social innovation as a field of study is in urgent need of reorientation. Instead of solely focusing on the generation and implementation of design solutions, designers should shift their efforts towards creating and nurturing meaningful social relations while understanding their many dimensions and intricacies, as these relations will sustain initiatives in the long run. However, outcomes that are eventually produced should be tangible, to increase their usefulness for the stakeholders involved. Moreover, not only do practitioners need to create enabling ecosystems for the communities they intend to help, they should create these environments for themselves as well, by aligning themselves with the interests of other actors. Appropriate communication plays in important role in keeping the initiative’s social environment stable and healthy by shaping the perceptions and expectations of stakeholders. A paradigm shift is therefore required in order to move forward, with designers working in the space of social innovation being sociable designers, who focus on being social rather than just doing social.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Framing and perception of design, role of designer, Thailand, Hong Kong. Malaysia
Subjects: W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2020 14:35
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2022 08:01

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