Design Management Metamorphosis Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Arts London
Department Name: London College of Communication


The inter-disciplinary concept of Design Management has gained considerable ground since the 1980s by addressing the totality of issues that improve competence in the management of design. As knowledge of the management of design has developed, the concept has come to be understood as a formal organisational activity. This network is concerned with expanding capacity for research on Design Management and moving the research agenda forward by examining the changing nature of design management in the new global environment that profoundly affects current economic and social activity.

The focus of the proposal is the changing role of the Design Management practitioner and current practice (Gornick 2008). There is keen awareness within the existing Design Management community that new organisational thinking and methods are being formed by fundamental structural changes in industry, in which services and public sector design management play an increasingly significant role. These create a diversity of organisational cultures and contexts in which the role and management of design needs to be more clearly understood. It is important that all key participants, researchers, practitioners and educators are kept aware of these changes in order to shape future research programmes. The Design Management Metamorphosis Network promises to create a very dynamic forum for the development of ideas, methodologies, and case studies.

The network events will be organised as colloquia and a symposium. Four events are planned as detailed below:

Colloquium 1: Twenty-first century contexts for Design Management
This event will explore the changing contexts within which design management practice operates. These include environmental and sustainability issues resulting from the current acute economic crisis, and the impact on private and public sectors of the emerging issues of authenticity and trust.

Colloquium 2: Design Management roles in current and emerging practice
The second event will focus on mapping changes in roles and responsibilities in Design Management, and practitioner and researcher responses to the current critical demands of the twenty-first century, including the impact of globalisation and structural changes in industry.

Symposium (event 3): Creating an environment for knowledge exchange
The third event, a two-day symposium, will be designed as a forum for building connections between the knowledge needs and interests of network participants. Consequently it will enable participants to explore the relationships between Design Management practice and research. It will examine the past and present acquisition of knowledge in Design Management and how knowledge will expand and disseminate through organisations in the future.

Colloquium 4: The emerging value of Design Management to society and the economy
The final event will explore Design Management's value in organisations, in particular the Design Manager's role in creating value, and their broader social implications, for example, for participatory design. Drawing on practitioner experience, it is anticipated that the research questions will impact on the modelling of practices across different industrial sectors and sizes of organisation.

The network is designed to bring benefits to its three principal constituents: practitioners, researchers and educators, and to provide sustainable frameworks for future knowledge transfer. It welcomes PhD students and early career researchers and aims to advance research questions and inter-disciplinary methodology development, and the formation of network groups with senior researchers and practitioners.


Gornick, N. (2008) 'In-House Design: How do Design Managers Manage Change?' Design Management Journal, Vol. 3. Design Management Institute, Boston USA

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
The beneficiaries from this project include Design Management researchers, practitioners and educators. Practitioners have been specifically engaged in the initial symposia organised during 2007-9. Consequently the network has an existing contact list of over 20 leading practitioners from companies including Procter and Gamble, Xerox, Virgin Atlantic and London Transport. One benefit of the network will be to build capacity with a wider range of practitioners. These practitioner beneficiaries will come from design consultancies, service and manufacturing industries. These will be very diverse, reflecting the increasing importance of the value enhancing effects of Design Management in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), private and public sectors and service and manufacturing organisations. The Design Council have provided speakers and delegates to the earlier symposia too, and so will be an important beneficiary of the network. Practitioner speakers' industrial and service organisations benefit directly from Network activity feedback, affording them vital information on current multi-faceted experience and new theoretical insights, thus underlining knowledge transfer benefits.

Educators form an important group of beneficiaries, and they too will be invited to contribute to the network events. The educators will be drawn from institutions offering Design Management courses, but also Design and Management specialisms. The aim of the network is to link practice, research and education so that, commencing with practice, each area is informed by current developments.

How will they benefit from this research?
Beneficiaries will gain a deeper understanding of design its and as a key management resource in a broad spectrum of organisations. The network's potential impact will be most evident in the contribution to new forms of commercial and cultural enterprise. It will enable practitioners to assess the impact of changing global contexts of Design Management, and changing practices such as the democratisation of design, issues of sustainability.. Researchers will benefit from knowledge of current practice and how it relates to existing research and the development of new theory and methodologies. The network will provide new opportunities build practice-based research capacity with PhD students and postdoctoral projects. Therefore, Design Management practice and more broadly, economic performance will be enhanced through more powerful research methods and models that provide more relevant, detailed and explanatory approaches. With much initial groundwork already prepared through 2007-09 symposia findings, the timescale to create high quality research partnerships to model emergent contexts and profile new practitioner roles will be within 24 months.

What will be done to ensure that they benefit from this research?
Beneficiaries will engage users through the network firstly by an interactive website, which is proposed to continue beyond the life of the project. While academic journal and conference papers will be targeted at design, Design Management and management communities, practitioners and educators will be informed by more accessible articles in the professional media and newsletters. The project team have extensive experience of organising dissemination events, as evidenced by their initiative in starting up and self-funding four international symposia on Design Management from 2007-9. They have excellent track records with potential beneficiaries in both the design and management fields, through membership of and associations with relevant organisations including the Design Management Institute, Design Council and RSA. The University of the Arts London's contacts in the creative industries fields will provide further opportunities to support the research, for example


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Description The research developed knowledge about the relationship between design practice, education and research. It examined the key issues facing design in organisations and emerging issues, specifically the importance of sustainability and globalisation.

The four workshops and colloquia brought together a wide range of participants from universities and practice. These enabled current design activities in organisations to be explored in detail, from research, practice and education perspectives. The concept of design management was consequently debated and evaluated through three lenses. In education there was an emphasis on design being understood in a range of organisational contexts, and having an influence at different levels: operational, tactical and strategic. These need to be co-ordinated. The practitioner input provided support for these findings, and emphasised the integration of design into organisational planning in both private and public sector organisations. The research perspective demonstrated assessments of the trajectory of design management, and current advances in design thinking and 'design as practice'. It highlighted issues in implementing design in organisations and the impact of a rapidly evolving business environment.
Exploitation Route The research was developed through four events, workshops and colloquia. These attracted new participants to the field of Design Management and in one case resulted in informing the development of a new academic course. The findings would enable other academic institutions to develop new interdisciplinary courses at different levels. Researchers might find new routes to develop knowledge of the integration and efficient use of design in organisations. They would also be able to build agenda to research design management in the business environment. Practitioners would find a similar opportunity to develop and expand their ability to integrate design at strategic levels in their organisations.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education

Description The findings from the workshops were used by design practitioners to develop their understanding and potentially their practices. The workshops informed Design Management International and Design Management Europe, two international organisations about current issues in Design Management and continue to inform Design Management Europe with key developments in management theory and their application to design.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy
Impact Types Economic

Description An exchange of ideas about Design Management in the next economy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The results of the events were that is attracted new practitioners (people who hadn't perviously engaged with academic researchers in Design Management) to hear about recent developments with Design Management International and the Design Council as well as findings from the research funded by the AHRC

The organisers decided to hold a second event in December 2013 to follow the interest from this event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013