Mapping the un-mappable in design thinking

I’ve been having a really interesting conversation with a student recently about the shape and function of design thinking practices inside and outside the studio space. How does each camp (business folk, organizational studies researchers, designers) understand who has ownership over what? In trying to suss this out, I went back to some mapping.

Mapping Design Thinking in Design Studies

Mapping Design Thinking in Design Studies.jpg

I’m working through shaping this as a discourse, and examining what this effect this discourse might be having on the way that designers work in the latest draft of the dissertation  – looking forward to sharing it in the next few months as it moves into the real world! In the meantime, this map has become a bit of a touchstone to keep me oriented in this confusing and wooly space of thinking about how designers think about design thinking.

Untangling Design Thinking from Designing, Thinking, and Designing our Thinking.

In an effort to wrangle the term design thinking into submission, I’m trying to untangle design thinking from all the words…design, designing, thinking, and designing our thinking. As a model for change in the world of post secondary education, design thinking serves an important purpose: it is both a tool that can enhance learning for students, and it is a disruptive force in an arena that is ready for some change.

As a tool, design thinking can open the doors to how our students tackle wicked problems using empathy, collaboration, and a bias towards action. It can foster and support a comfort with the messiness of ambiguity within inquiry based learning, and it can nurture an increased fluency and flexibility in creating ideas geared towards innovation. It can build a practice of process in creative thinking, which is a pretty incredible thing.

And it is a disruptive force for the academy as an organization too. When an academic institution (especially one as large as a University) is ready to innovate with new ways of doing, sharing and celebrating research, new ways of teaching and new ways of learning – well using design thinking to develop and support the disruptions required to make those changes seems like a fabulous fit.

But using design thinking in post secondary education requires we move beyond the tip of the iceberg, and that we leave the sticky tabs and wacky ideation games behind to embrace the way we are designing our thinking. Because using design thinking as a tool for teaching and learning, OR as a tool for organizational disruption means more than just acting like we think a designer might act (and what is that ‘way’ anyways? Just lots of wearing black and complaining about fonts? General coolness?). It means using the ways that they actively design their thinking to approach the social and critical problems we tackle in the classroom and in the academic culture. It means designing our thinking deliberately to embrace ideation, ambiguity and prototyping in how we define our problem in the first place, and it means getting over the idea there even being a correct solution, and celebrating the thinking process itself.

When designers use design thinking, they aren’t replacing their practice with a model. Often (based on the conversations I’ve had as part of my research) they don’t even believe that the models that take their name represent their work at all. (Side note: this video is phenomenal…once Pentagram declares that they are ‘over’ design thinking, it is time to take a hard look at the models we rely on!) But what they are doing is deliberately approaching a problem by thinking about it in a way that they themselves have deliberately and strategically designed. And we can all learn from that.

I tackled a brief lit review of the world of design thinking from the perspective of the field of design studies last year – for what it is worth, here is what this oh-so-popular approach looks like from that perspective.

Saying the Unsayable: Intersections of Tacit Knowing and Explicit Knowledge
Within an Expanded Definition of Design Thinking.

Interest in design thinking as a tool for innovation, and as a mysteriously-applied art practiced by designers, has recently reached new heights within the field of design studies. But for all the attention paid to design thinking – from events such as the Design Thinkers 2016 conference in Toronto (Association of Registered Graphic Designers, 2016) to a list of over 1,500 publications since 2010 alone (Amazon, 2016), the practice of how designers come to know how, and what, to design remains hotly-contested. Throughout the history of design studies, design thinking has been understood as a knowledge practice unique to design culture. However, the location and definition of design thinking as either a tacit form of knowing, or an explicit form of visual knowledge has remained a point of debate throughout the movements in the field.

Design Thinking: Method, Process, Mindset and Practice Movements

Exactly how designers create innovative and surprising solutions to undefined and multifaceted material and social problems remains one of the major debates within the field of design studies. The designer’s process of imagining, proposing and creating change in our world is inspiring to many, but mysterious to most ­– including design practitioners and researchers. Over time, understandings of what it means to use ‘design thinking’ have shifted to reflect the changing understandings of the designer’s role and function within society, while continually focusing on examinations of design as a social act (Papanek, 1971), explorations of the creative thinking practices of designers (Cross, 2011) and the material enactment of design as conception and planning of the artificial (Buchanan, 1992; Margolin, 2002).[1]

To better understand their field, designers and design theorists alike rely on Simon’s distinction between design and the social sciences. In his oft-quoted passage from The Sciences of the Artificial (1969) Simon proposes design as a practice of action and change, undertaken by a wide variety of professionals:

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. … Schools of engineering, as well as schools of architecture, business, education, law, and medicine, are all centrally concerned with the process of design (p. 55).

At the crossroads of design practice and creativity lays a field of research focused on design thinking as a form of knowledge and a way of knowing. First proposed by Archer in 1965, and popularized by Rowe in 1987, design thinking is understood to be a mode of inquiry: both a way of knowing and a form of knowledge. This proposal, as Kimbell explains, prompts examinations into “describing how designers do design, how they think, and what they know”, asking us “to examine our assumptions about what constitutes design; it forces us to define design itself” (2011, p. 299). As the dominant epistemological position within both contemporary and historical design studies, design thinking has long been understood to be the basis for all innovative, creative and cultural production conducted by designers (Cross, 2001).

A review of the relatively short history of design studies reveals four key movements or eras of focus in the discipline, each of which locates and defines design thinking in a different manner, repositioning the term through an expanding cycle culminating in our contemporary understanding of design thinking as a collaborative, socially-informed, creative process.

Design Thinking as a Method

Design thinking’s roots are planted at the beginning of design studies – an era marked by the “methods movement” (Margolin, 2002) that focused on developing a scientific approach to the practice of design. Beginning in the early 1960s, scholars such as Archer (1965), Simon (1969), De Bono (1968) and Osborn (1957) focused on systems, scientific analysis and use of pattern in creative thinking, outlining the concern at the time with the designer’s knowledge about methods and how to employ them in a scientific manner. Design thinking was understood at the time to encompass a unique knowledge of design methods, and though the term is often attributed to Rowe (1987), Archer’s Systematic Method for Designers (1965) serves as the true birthplace of “design thinking” as a unique description for a designer’s process. In his examination of industrial design, Archer defined a series of phases within design methods, proposing that:

“… there has been a world wide shift in emphasis from the sculptural to the technological. Ways had to be found to incorporate the knowledge of ergonomics, cybernetics, marketing and management science into design thinking” (p. 57).

The methods movement in design studies was further defined by Simon’s development of design thinking as a unique, methods based approach to a commonly defined and understood problem (Simon, 1969) and by Papanek’s (1971) call for sustainable design practice.[2] It was at the intersection between Simon’s scientific notion of design thinking as an attempt to shift the possible to the preferable, Archer’s identification and definition of design thinking as unique aspect of design practice and Papanek’s identification of the social role of designers that the modern approach to design thinking was initiated.

Design Thinking as a Mindset

The subsequent turn toward creative practice and ability as a mindset marked the second movement in design thinking. Initiated in the early 1980s, the process-movement within design studies developed out of examinations into what Cross termed “process-creativity” (1997, p. 427), and presented design thinking as a way of knowing: a general resource for design characterized by the cognitive aspects of design practice and creative process (Cross, 1982). Of particular note in this movement was Lawson’s study of design cognition in the context of architecture and urban planning (1979) which provided the vocabulary used by Cross in his proposal of “designerly ways of knowing” (1982). This idea that “there are things to know, ways of knowing them, and ways of finding out about them that are specific to the design area” (Cross, 1982, p. 22) situated design thinking as a cognitive practice firmly based in instinct and forms of intuition that are unique to designers.

As Buchanan suggested, this positioned design thinking as a “neoteric art” – a new systemic discipline of practical reasoning and argumentation (1992, p. 22). Suggesting that design thinking was indeed ‘designerly’ shaped understandings of the methodology as both an explicit process in which creative practice could be vocalized and shared (Bucciarelli, 1984; Schön, 1983) and as an intuitive and tacit way of knowing based on an extension of visual thinking (McKim, 1972), ambidextrous thinking (Faste, 1994) and creative practices of leaping and bridge building (Cross, 1997). As Kimbell suggests, this era of design thinking focused on “what designers do, think and know, implying that this is different to what non-designers do” (2011, p. 298). The mindset movement also introduced a new understanding of design problems – positioning them as “swampy lowlands” (Schön, 1983, p. 42), or the widely-used “wicked problems” (Buchanan, 1992, originally proposed in Rittell & Webber, 1973). With the redefinition of design thinking as a mindset, and a methodological response to the wicked problems presented in practice, conceptions of design thinking as a way of knowing specific to designers began to evolve into a ‘process’ approach to innovative problem-solving that focused more clearly on the teachable and transferable aspects of the practice.

Design Thinking as Process

The third movement of design studies presented design thinking as a process, defined by researchers who grounded logic and criteria in studies of innovation from inside and outside the design studio. This shift of perspectives, marked in the early 2000s by the adoption of design thinking as a marketable skill set by innovation and management studies (T. Brown, 2009; T. Kelley, 2005; Martin, 2009; Pink, 2006) positioned design thinking as a “way of looking” (D. Kelley, 2013) rather than an ability or “designerly way of knowing” (Cross, 1982). Suggesting that a design thinker is one who knows there is never a right answer to a problem, researchers such as Tim Brown proposed that by following a proprietary, non-linear and iterative process that he called “inspiration, ideation and implementation”, the design process itself can convert problems into opportunities (T. Brown, 2009). Design thinking was increasingly held ransom by theorists focused on its application outside of the studio, despite desperate calls for its return from theorists focused on the epistemic modes within design process (Bauer & Eagan, 2008). The positioning of design thinking as a resource for organizations – an inherently empathetic and innovative act, distanced from the culture, education or community context of design practice and useful for anyone willing to adopt the theoretical approach – resulted in a call for the death of the term itself with Nussbaum’s declaration of design thinking as a failed experiment (2011).

Design Thinking as Practice

In what can be seen as a rejection of design thinking’s movement towards applied innovation,[3] new understandings of design thinking have re-positioned the term as a form of embodied, socially and materially informed practice (Kimbell, 2012; Shove, Watson, Hand, & Ingram, 2007). This latest movement within studies of design thinking studies has sensitized theorists to

“the embodied nature of professional design work, how designers and stakeholders involved in design processes move, what they think, what they do and how it feels” (Kimbell, 2009, p. 12)

This opened the door to considerations of the role of organizations and social context in design thinking practice, and redefined design thinking as a service-oriented, human-centered, user-focused and participatory approach within the work of designers (Rodgers & Yee, 2015). As Julier has noted, this turn from design as problem-solving activity to design as problem-processing activity mirrors the shifts in design practice from multi-disciplinary approaches to interdisciplinary approaches (2000). A contemporary definition of design thinking encompasses the practices through which designers examine and understand what people do in their daily life, as well as the social implications of the designer’s impact on material culture and the people with which they are engaged (Murphy, 2015; Yaneva, 2013). In this way, design thinking has been reframed to include not only the methods, mindset and process of creative practice, but also the co-production of knowledge and material experience through participation and collaboration.

[1] Valuable contributions to design studies are also found in examinations of the material world. Design theorists have variously found it helpful to reduce design to its product of “things with attitude” (Attfield, 1989) in order to position the output of design practice as the link between the economic and the cultural (Bourdieu, 1984), as a demonstration of a specific logic or language practiced in the design community (Chaney, 1996), or as cultural reconstruction for the meaning of what is consumed (Fine & Leopold, 1993).

[2] The design methods movement of the decades following 1960, and its focus on design as a unique, nearly scientific practice is reflected the human-centered, user-focused and sustainable design movements that define the field today.

[3] In fact, design theorists such as Shove challenge the association of design thinking with “thinking” at all (Shove, Watson, Hand, & Ingram, 2007).

Connecting Innovation and Creativity in teaching and learning: Design thinking goes to University.

One of the questions I ask designers in my field research is “how did you learn to solve problems”? I get all sorts of answers, but after more than a few jokes about the boot camp that is design school and the battle field of client work, most of the designers I interview talk about learning by doing – learning design thinking by doing design thinking.

If we accept that creativity and innovation are basic to both social and economic growth in our world (and it sure seems like we have), then we must take a closer look at how we are incorporating these skills into our classrooms through the learning opportunities we present to students. Design thinking is something you must learn by doing: the designers I interview and observe as part of the Doing Design Thinking study have certainly taught me that. And design thinking represents an essential skill set for the future. So how can I integrate design thinking practices in my work as an educator at the University of Calgary – what does this do to my understanding of what and how I teach at a post-secondary level, in a non-design area?

After all, being part of an academic community is all about learning to explore, to research and to connect ideas to the future – sounds a lot like design thinking in action no? There are a lot of fascinating ways that the problem solving practices of designers are being incorporated into K-12 education, into post-secondary curriculum redesign and into other creative arts disciplines but there is less work out there linking design thinking methods, and learning strategies within the post-secondary education classroom.

So what would this look like? How would we integrate ‘connective creativity’ – something the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (a US based coalition of educators, business leaders and policy makers) call “a core 21st century skill” – into the learning environment? As Tim Brown (link) and Jocelyn Wyatt (link) explain:

“Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as being functional”. (Brown and Wyatt, 2010, p.12).

Nurturing this ability to connect the emotional and the functional meanings of ideas in the post-secondary learning space relies on our willingness to embrace problem or project based learning – what many are calling inquiry based learning methods. I can’t tell you how hard I nerd out to the academic literature on inquiry based learning – it is more than a little embarrassing.

But back to the point: to see how students learn, we must plant the flag of traditional models of design thinking practices in what we like to think are non-creative territories. We need to apply the methods designers embrace in their practice outside the studio space, in STEM labs and lecture theatres and tutorial classrooms. Using design thinking models as the foundation of our pedagogical approach can do more than just help us solve a predefined problem (which can be fascinating), they can help us grow and nurture our student’s creative thinking abilities – they can help us foster and enable innovation in the classroom by showing us how students learn to think critically, collaboratively, in a manner that increases interdisciplinary and integrating problem solving methods.

What I see designers doing in the studio can both define what we teach and how we teach.

And by integrating this model of complex problem solving into the classroom, we not only help students prepare for a career that relies on being able to connect ideas through creativity (see this excellent article by Rotherham & Willingham, 2010) but we open doors for students to improve their critical thinking skills, and their own ‘connective creativity’ processes. There are so many projects out there that are touching on this – one of the ones I’m really excited about his happening in the post-secondary space and I would love to see how we can integrate formal design thinking models and practices in  classrooms and labs as well.

The World Economic Forum tells us that by 2020, one-third of all jobs will require complex problem solving skills like ‘design thinking’. This is in three years. THREE YEARS! This means that students already enrolled in PSE will need these skills well in hand before they graduate if they want to take their place as leaders in the Canada of the future.

We have a lot to do everyone. I’m certainly looking forward to putting some of the findings from this @SSHRC_CRSH study into play in the University classroom and seeing just what the impact of integrating design thinking within learning in my field might be.


Connecting Creativity and Innovation – researching our #cdninnovation future

Innovation. We’re hearing this word a lot these days – in our federal budget, our businesses and especially in our research work.

The use of design thinking as a method to generate innovation in spaces outside the design studio is something that I believe we should all celebrate. If, as the meme-verse tells us, creativity is intelligence having fun, then design thinking seems to be traditional innovation strategies at a rave. Design thinking and innovation. Together, the terms ring with power and potential. Their pervasive use in the business literature and in our collective hive-twitter-mind suggests the melding of strategic, creative and analytical approaches to understanding some of the most complicated and important problems of today.

But all is not as it appears to be: generating innovation through design thinking is not just sticky tabs and prototyping. Using ‘design thinking’ to solve the problems of the future cannot be solely the application of magical fairy dust  – it is a social practice informed by a culture and a community that is shared, evolved and adapted every day by designers across Canada. It is connecting creativity and innovation in action.

Our new federal budget has created an opportunity for developing an actionable and evidence based innovation strategy that integrates what I see designers doing in the studio everyday into programs and services across our country. It is so exciting to see the discussion about design thinking and innovation move beyond the myth of creative magic, and into our larger narrative about what it means to be Canadian.

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I’m excited to see the ways in which the Canadian government is focusing our attention on the critical role innovation plays in the issues facing Canadians today. I’ve been lucky to be part of round table discussions held by Startup Canada, SSHRC & CRSH and Google where they asked participants from across Canada “How do YOU define a creative and entrepreneurial Canada?” You can download the full report about the initiative here (it really is worth the read!).

Hearing from Canadians involved in creative, startup, venture and not for profit communities at those round table discussions about what they see to be the most important conditions required for building an innovative and #creativeCanada was fascinating. The type of problem solving work that I see happening in the design studio as designers tackle wicked and complex social problems is something that I think should be reflected in the research mandate of any great University.

This study is helping me learn more about how designers work – how they connect innovation and creativity on a daily basis – and I’m excited share that with researchers from across my own academic home and from across Canada at SSHRC Congress this May. After all, creativity and innovation are key calls to action in the our research agendas and in our government’s focus on the Canada of tomorrow.

A little light reading: Practice Theory edition

From the candidacy vault: a list of practice theory sources and inspirations, with a special focus on organizational dynamics, and the process of learning, changing and evolving practice forms.

Barab, S., & Duffy. (2011). From practice fields to communities of practice. In D. Jonassen & S. Land. (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments. New York, NY: Routledge.


Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Bourdieu, P. (1990). The Logic of Practice. Cambridge, UK: Polity.


Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical reason: on the theory of action. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.


Bräuchler, B., & Postill, J. (2010). Theorizing media and practice. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.


Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities of practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation. Organization Science, 2(1), 40 – 57.


Chaiklin, S., & Lave, J. (1993). Understanding practice: Perspectives on activity and context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Contu, A., & Willmott, H. (2000). Comment on Wenger and Yanow. Knowing in practice: A delicate flower in the organizational learning field. Organization, 7(2), 283-97.


de Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of everyday life. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.


Duguid, P. (2007). The art of knowing: Social and tacit dimensions of knowledge and the limits of the community of practice. The Information Society: An International Journal, 21. 109 – 118.


Feldman, M. (2000). Organizational routines as a source of continuous change. Organization Science, 11(6) 611 – 629.


Feldman, M., & Orlikowski, W. (2011). Theorizing practice and practicing theory. Organization Science, 22(5). 1240 – 1253.


Feldman, M., & Pentland. (2008). Routine dynamics. In D. Barry, H. Hansen (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of new approaches in management and organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Gherardi, S. (2006). Organizational knowledge: The texture of workplace learning. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.


Gherardi, S., & Nicolini, D. (2002). Learning the trade: A culture of safety in practice. Organization, 9(2), 191-223.


Jarzabkowski, P. (2005). Strategy as Practice. London, UK: Sage.

Chapters Introduction, 1 and 2


Jarzabkowski, P., Balogun, J., & Seidl, D. (2007). Strategizing: The challenges of a practice perspective. Human Relations, 60(5)

Lau, R. W. K. (2004). Habitus and the practical logic of practice: An interpretation. Sociology, 38(2) 369-86.


Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Lave.J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Nicolini, D. (2012). Pratice theory, work & organization. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Nicolini, D., Gherardi, S., & Yannow, D. (2003). Knowing in Organizations: a practice based approach. Armonk, NY: M.E Sharpe. Chapters 1 – 4 (p. 1 – 96), 9 (p. 213 – 240)


Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: a practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4). 404 – 28.


Orlikowski, W. J. (2002) Knowing in practice: Enacting a collective capability in distributed organizing. Organization Science, 13(3). 249 – 73.


Orlikowsky, W. J. & Yates, J. (1994). Genre repertoire: the structuring of communicative practices in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 39(4). 541 – 574.


Ortner, S.B. (2006). Anthropology and social theory: Culture, power and the acting subject. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


Reckwitz, A. (2002). Toward a theory of social practices. A development in culturalist theorizing. European Journal of Social Theory, 5(2). 243-263.


Schatzki, T. (2012). A  primer on practices: Theory and research. In Higgs, J. et al (Eds.). Practice-based education: Perspectives and strategies. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers. pp. 13-26.


Schatzki, T., Knorr Cetina,K., & von Savigny, E. (Eds.). 2001. The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. London, UK: Routledge.


Schatzki, T.R. (1996). Social practices: a Wittengesteinian approach to human activity and the social. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Schatzki, T.R. (2005). Peripheral Vision: The sites of organizations. Organization Studies, 26, 465-84.


Shove, E. (2003). Comfort, cleanliness and convenience. The social organization of normality. Oxford, UK: Berg.


Shove, E., & Pantzar, M. (2005). Consumers, producers and practices: Understanding the invention and reinvention of nordic walking. Journal of Consumer Culture, 5, 43.


Shove, E., et al. (2007). The Design of Everyday Life. Oxford, UK: Berg.


Warde, A. (2005). Consumption and theories of practice.  Journal of Consumer Culture, 5, 131-53.


Weick, K. E., & Roberts, K. H. (1993). Collective mind in organizations: Heedful interrelating on flight decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(3), 357 – 381.


Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Wittington, R. (2006). Completing the Practice turn in strategy research. Organization Studies, 27(5), 613 – 634.


A little light reading: Ethnography edition

More from last year’s candidacy, in case it is of help to others who suffer so: a brief listing of readings from the world of ethnography with a special focus on cultural production studies and organizational ethnographic studies.

Alcoff, Linda (1992). The Problem of Speaking for Others. Cultural Critique, 20, 5-32.

Atkinson, P., Coffey, A., Delamont, S., Lofland, J., & Lofland, L. (Eds.). (2001). Handbook of ethnography. London: Sage.

Atkinson, P., Coffey, A., & Delamont. S. (1999). Ethnography: Post, Past and Present.Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 28(5).

Barley, S., & Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science 12(1), 76 – 95

Brettell, C. (Ed). (1996). When they read what we write: The politics of ethnography. Westport: Bergin & Garvey.

Collins, J., & Lutz, C. (1993). Reading National Geographic. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Conquergood, D. (1991). Rethinking ethnography: toward a critical cultural politics. Communication Monographs, 58, 179 – 194.

Conquergood, D. (2013). Performance as a moral act. Ethical Dimensions of the Ethnography of Performance. In Cultural struggles: performance, ethnography, praxis. D.

Conquergood, (Ed)Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Culyba, R., Heimer, C., & Coleman Petty, J. (2004). The ethnographic turn: Fact, fashion or fiction? Qualitative Sociology, 27(4), 365 – 389.

Cunliffe, A. (2010). Retelling tales of the field. In search of organizational ethnography 20 years on. Organizational Research Methods, 13(2), 224 – 239.

Davis, A. (2008). Investigating cultural producers. In M. Pickering (Ed.), Research methods for cultural studies. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. pp.53

Denzin, N. K. (2011) The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Chapters: 17, 18, 28

Dornfeld, B. (1998). Producing public television, producing public culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Down, S. (2012). A historiographical account of workplace and organizational ethnography. Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 1(1), 72-82.

Emerson, R., Fretz, R., & Shaw, L. (2011). Writing ethnographic field notes. (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Fine, G., & Morrill, C. (1997). Ethnographic contributions to organizational sociology. Sociological Methods & Research, 25(4).

Fine, G.; Morrill, C. &  Surianarian, S. (2009). Ethnography in Organizational Settings In D. Buchanan, A. Bryman, The SAGE handbook of organizational research methods. London, UK: SAGE. pp. 603

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Geertz, C. (1976). From the native’s point of view. In P. Rabinow, & W.M. Sullivan (Eds.), Interpretive social science: a reader. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Gill, R. (2011). The shadow in organizational ethnography: moving beyond shadowing to spect-acting. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: an International Journal, 6(2). 115 – 133.

Hatch, M.J. (1996). The role of the researcher. An analysis of narrative position in organization theory. Journal of Management Inquiry, 5(4), 359 – 374.

Kunda, G. (2006). Engineering culture: Control and commitment in a high-tech corporation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Mahon, M. (2000). The visible evidence of cultural producers. Annual Review of Anthropology, 29, 467 – 492.

McRobbie, A. (1998). British fashion design: Rag trade or image industry. London, UK: Routledge.

Moeran, B. (1996). A Japanese advertising agency: An anthropology of media and markets. Honolulu, HA: University of Hawai’i Press.

Morisawa, T. (2015). Managing the unmanageable: Emotional labour and creative hierarchy in the Japanese animation industry. Ethnography 16 (2), 262 – 284

Myerhoff, B., & Ruby, J. (Eds.) (1982) The cracked mirror: Reflexive perspectives in anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Negus, K. (1999). Music genres and corporate cultures. London: Routledge.

Negus, K. (2000). Identities and industries: The cultural formation of aesthetic economies. In P. Du Gay, & M. Pryke (Eds.), Cultural economy. London, UK: Sage.

Neyland, D. (2008). Organizational ethnography. London, UK: Sage.
Orr, J. (1996). Talking about machines: An ethnography of a modern job. Ithica, NY: ILR Press.

Radway, J. (1989). Ethnography among elites: Comparing discourses of power. Journal of Communication Inquiry 13(2), 3 – 11.

Rosen, M. (2000). Coming to terms with the field: Understanding and doing organizational ethnography. In (Ed), Michael Rosen, Turning words Spinning Worlds. London, UK: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Schwartzman, H. (1993). Ethnography in organizations. London, UK: Sage.

Seale, C. (1999). Quality in qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry 5(4), 456-478.

Suchman, Blomberg, Orr, & Trigg. (1999). Reconstituting technologies as social practices. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(3). 392 – 408.

Watson, T. (2012). Ethnography, reality and truth: the vital need for studies of ‘how things work’ in organizations and management. Journal of Management Studies, 48(1).

Wolcott, H.F. (1999). Ethnography: A way of seeing. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Ybema, S. (Ed). (2009). Organizational ethnography: studying the complexities of everyday life. London, UK: Sage.

Zickar, M.; Carter, N. (2010). Reconnecting with the spirit of workplace ethnography: A historical review. Organizational Research Methods, 13, 304.

A little light reading: Cultural Production Studies edition

For what it is worth: a brief listing of readings from the world of  Cultural Production Studies with a special focus on the world of design.

Banks, M., Gill, R., & Taylor, S. (Eds.). (2014). Theorizing cultural work: Labour, continuity and change in the cultural and creative industries. Florence, KY: Taylor and Francis.

Becker, H. (1974).  Art as collective action. American Sociological Review, 39(6), 767 – 776.

Bennett, A., & Heller, S. (2006). Design studies: Theory and research in graphic design. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1993). The field of cultural production: Essays on art and literature. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
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How can we use ethnography to study the work of cultural producers?

Design Ethnography and Ethnographies of Designers: An Embedded and Collaborative Approach to the Study of Cultural Producers (Dorland, 2016) investigates the challenges and possibilities presented when conducting ethnographic research among cultural producers – especially among designers who themselves conduct ethnographic research work. In this paper, I claim that despite the barriers to ethnographic methods presented by the designer’s location within a community of guarded elites, and their use of designer-adapted observational research practices, an ethnographic study approach to the study of the design community is not only feasible but also valuable in the field of cultural production studies. The challenges presented by the use of ethnographic methods in the study of cultural producers can be mitigated in three ways: by using an embedded approach to ethnographic research, by mobilizing the researchers’ insider status within the community, and by applying designer-led approaches to observational and visual research methods in a collaborative fashion.

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