How Cultural Knowledge Shapes Core Design Thinking: A Situation Specific Analysis

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The growing trend of co-creation and co-design in cross-cultural design teams presents challenges for the design thinking process. We integrate two frameworks, one on reasoning patterns in design thinking, the other on the dynamic constructivist theory of culture, to propose a situation specific framework for the empirical analysis of design thinking in cross-cultural teams. We illustrate the framework with a qualitative analysis of 16 episodes of design related conversations, which are part of a design case study. The results show that cultural knowledge, either as shared by the cross-cultural team or group specific knowledge of some team members, shape the reasoning patterns in the design thinking process across all the 16 episodes. Most of the design discussions were approached by the designers as problem situations that were formulated in a backward direction, where the value to create was known first. Then the designers were using available cultural knowledge to articulate the unknown what to design (products/services) and how the design would work (the working principles of product/services). In conclusion, we demonstrate a novel approach for understanding how cultural knowledge shapes core design thinking in specific situations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)115-132
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 10. November 2017


  • Cultural knowledge
  • Design thinking
  • Abduction
  • Situational analysis

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