How Cultural Knowledge Shapes Design Thinking: A Situation Specific Analysis of Availability, Accessibility and Applicability of Cultural Knowledge in Inductive, Deductive and Abductive Reasoning in Two Design Debriefing Sessions

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    This paper challenges the ‘core design thinking and its application’ as outlined by Dorst (2011) and uses a dynamic constructivist notion of cultural-cognitive performance to analyze aspects of a design thinking process (Clemmensen, 2009; Hong & Mallorie, 2004). Based on a qualitative analysis of some of the events in the DTRS11 data set and using the theory of Dorst on design thinking as well as Hong & Mallorie’s socio-cognitive theory of cultural knowledge networks, the paper shows how it is possible and useful to analyze design thinking from a cultural perspective. The results show that cultural knowledge, either as shared knowledge by the cross-cultural team or group specific knowledge, influences the Dorst design thinking equations across all the 16 episodes analyzed in DTRS11 data set. Furthermore, most of the design discussions were approached by the designers as problem situations and were approached in a backwards manner, where the value to create was known; however, the designers were using available cultural knowledge to figure out the unknown what (products/services) and how (working principles of why something would work or not work). In conclusion, the paper demonstrates a novel approach to understand how design thinking can be efficiently understood as a culturally situated practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2016
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Culture
    • Cognition
    • Design-thinking
    • Abduction
    • Creativity

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