Creative Analogy Use in a Heterogeneous Design Team: The Pervasive Role of Background Domain Knowledge

Bo Christensen, Linden J. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We integrated two research traditions – one focusing on analogical reasoning, the other on knowledge sharing – with the aim of examining how designers' unique knowledge backgrounds can fuel analogy-based creativity. The present dataset afforded a unique opportunity to pursue this aim since the design dialogue derived from team members with highly disparate educational backgrounds. Our analyses revealed that analogies that matched (versus mismatched) educational backgrounds were generated and revisited more frequently, presumably because they were more accessible. Matching analogies were also associated with increased epistemic uncertainty, perhaps because domain experts appreciate the challenge of mapping such analogies between domains. Our findings support claims from the knowledge-sharing literature for a direct route from knowledge diversity through analogical reasoning to novel idea production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Studies
Pages (from-to)38-58
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Design cognition
  • Analogical reasoning
  • Creative design
  • Collaborative design
  • Conceptual design

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