Doing-Being Creative: Empirical Studies of Interaction in Design Work

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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Abstract

This dissertation addresses how the conversational, embodied, and material aspects of design work may be studied from a practice-based perspective. From this perspective, design work is understood as eclectic and complex interactions that occur as an interplay among multiple actors, stakeholders, artifacts, and resources that are embedded in a social, cultural, and material world. By exploring design work as it happens in practice, this dissertation focuses on what designers say and do when engaged in various types of design work. The dissertation presents five distinct articles concerned with multiple situated design activities whereby design work is accomplished. The articles consider how talk and the use of various visual objects and technologies are structured and organized among the participants in various design projects and in different design tasks. Conducting the studies involved collecting audiovisual recordings of designers engaged in their daily work in different institutional contexts. The audiovisual recordings enabled the consideration of the variety of communicative and interactional resources used by the participants. In addition to talk, gestures, and bodily orientation, the tools for communication included the use of objects as design materials, and digital technologies such as sticky notes, whiteboards, computers, tablets, smartphones, and online resources.
Studying design work from a practice-based perspective entails looking beyond the linear processes of design in steps or phases; instead, design practice should be understood as social and material choreography in the complex and “messy” interconnection of people, things, and discourses. Moreover, studying design practices poses a challenge to the standard research methods used in the field of design research. Details of the interactions, such as work that is co-located in various parts of a design project using digital and analog tools, searching for visual inspiration online, or moving sticky notes on a board, calls for methodological flexibility. Conceptual creativity is needed to capture these interactional details and to analyze the data thereafter.
To overcome this research challenge, this dissertation presents a diverse, interdisciplinary, and mixed-method approach to the study of design practices. The five articles represent various analytical approaches to the study of design practices in which theoretical perspectives and methods adopted from ethnomethodology (EM), conversation analysis (CA), and cognitive and social psychology are combined. The combination of theories and methods varies across the five studies, and each article demonstrates a distinct way of collecting and analyzing design work, withaudiovisual data as the core of the empirical fundament. With reference to the five articles, this dissertation demonstrates the broad scope of the possible methods for video analysis that are relevant to design research and organization and management studies in general. To illustrate:
•Article one, “The Oscillation Between Individual and Social Designing in Co-Located Student Teams,” shows how a video-based analysis of the oscillating nature of individual and social activities in design teams challenges the current mainstream theoretical assumption of co-designing and creativity as solely social activities. The article examines team interactions across different episodes (for example, individual or social) and sub-activities (such as problem definitions, planning, and concept development) in a co-located design project. Various perspectives from cognitive and social psychology are integrated with a micro-level analysis of the details in the recorded interactions. The study draws on the sociological traditions of EM and CA to focus on details of the team members’ interactions (such as the use of digital and analog communicative resources to attract and establish joint attention). The quantitative analysis reveals how various phases and activities in the design project involved extended and more frequent social episodes; that is, activities such as idea generation and problem definition entail longer episodes of social activity. More frequent (but shorter) types of social activities were related to concept development and project planning. In addition, the EM/CA-inspired micro-level analysis of the shift from working individually to working collectively shows how the team members applied different strategies to attract the team’s attention during activities such as concept development and decision making. Furthermore, the analysis revealed how digital and analog communicative recourses were used to mediate joint attention. The results contribute to a procedural understanding of collaborative design practices by honing in on oscillations between individual activity and joint attention in co-located teams.
•Article two, “How Task Constraints Affect Inspiration Search Strategies,” employs a quantitative approach to the analysis of screen recordings of online image searches as a different type of audiovisual data. The study illustrates three different inspiration search strategies in an experimental setup with three predefined task formulations with distinct levels of constraints (from one to 13 main keywords). The results show that a high number of available search terms in the design task with a high level of constrainedness allowed for flexible search behavior (such as quick and numerous searches) and broad searches (for example, random search terms). A design task with an intermediate level of constrainedness showed diligent and slow in-depth search behavior, with search queries consisting entirely of search terms drawn directly from the keywords in the design task. A design task with a low level of constrainedness showed quick and divergent search behavior, in which few searches made use of the search terms in the design task. The article’s main contribution is an empirical study using audiovisual data, which offers new insights into how varying levels of constrainedness in creative tasks affect inspiration search strategies.
•Article three, “Kinds of ‘Moving’ in Designing with Sticky Notes,” explains how a moment-to-moment analysis of moves and gestures when designing with sticky notes provided critical insights into the embodied and material aspects of a collaborating team’s shared understanding and progress in a design project. The article deploys a multimodal methodological approach to analyze sticky note moves as a type of design activity via video recordings of naturally occurring interactions in design teams as the empirical basis. The study was informed by EM and CA combined with perspectives from cognitive psychology to analyze the moment-to-moment moves of the sticky notes and their sequential order in the design activity. The article drew on the visuospatial layout and content on the whiteboard (where the movement occurred) in the analysis. Moreover, the situated and embodied interactions of the design team were assessed to understand the structure and types of sticky note moves. The analysis suggests that the sticky note structure (that is, how the sticky notes were placed) on the whiteboard and the accompanying gestures when referring to, moving, placing, or touching a note, as opposed to only the verbalizations, often became communicative resources in the members’ co-construction of how to move a sticky note and where exactly to place it. Moreover, the study revealed that the movement of individual sticky notes had a relatively stable sequential order containing interactional strategies for directing and maintaining shared attention. Furthermore, three types of sticky note movements pertaining to the formation of associations, categories, and partial solution structures were found. By exploring how and why designers move sticky notes, the study points toward new directions for research on visual support in design work.
•Article four, “‘What do you think?’”: Managing reflection during group supervision,” takes a qualitative approach to the study of reflective practice and “doing reflecting” in team supervision sessions. The study’s analytical approach draws upon EM and CA to unravel the verall structural organization of the supervision sessions and to analyze the sequential structure of the unfolding reflection in the student teams. Through a set of empirical examples drawn from a 16+h video-based dataset, the article uncovers novel aspects of the organization of reflective practice, which had not been identified previously. The analysis reveals how the institutional “rules” of social order in the classroom may disrupt the ideal of reflective practice as “thinking about your own work.” Four ways of “doing reflecting” were observed in the data: (1) Reflection as advice-giving, (2) reflection as challenge-forecasting, (3) reflection as a comparison, and (4) reflection as evaluative praise. As few studies have considered reflection in higher education as an interactional phenomenon, this paper contributes by providing insights into how students and teachers construct and enact reflective practice in situ. By providing empirical knowledge about the process of team supervision and reflection in groups, the paper also highlights the role of facilitation and supervision when teaching and learning reflective practice. These findings offer insights that are useful for developing methods for teaching and learning reflection in institutional and organizational contexts.
•Article five, “Video-Based Data Sharing in Organizational Research: The Significance of Cinematic and Editorial Decisions,” addresses the key issues that researchers should consider when collecting video data to share with other researchers. In organizational studies, video data are particularly promising for data sharing due to the unique qualities of permanence and density, as these qualities allow for a range of quantitative and qualitative forms of analyses. These data-sharing advantages offer possibilities for “video collaboratories” in organizational research projects in which teams of international researchers have the opportunity to investigate a single yet massively rich dataset in innumerable ways and from multiple perspectives. The article argues that this vision provides the possibility of increasing access to the organizational settings and of stimulating dialogue across the organizational sciences. The article presents the case of an interdisciplinary conference at which a video-based dataset was collected, shared, and analyzed by 28 international research teams with diverse ontological stances to demonstrate the approaches to and challenges of collecting video-based data for data sharing and secondary analyses. Finally, the article provides a set of methodological reflections and recommendations regarding the advantages of the video collaboratory for organizational research and discusses the most significant data collection and data management issues to be considered in supporting its success.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages277
ISBN (Print)9788775680870
ISBN (Electronic)9788775680887
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesPhD Series
Number17.2022
ISSN0906-6934

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