Practical and philosophical opportunities of creation: How the field of professional design can contribute to the future development of the organisation design discipline

Ingrid Nord Østensjø

Student thesis: Master thesis


This report provides an analysis of how the field of professional design can contribute to the organisation design discipline in terms of practical and theoretical possibilities. Towards this end, an empirical, exploratory research has been conducted, based on semi-structured interviews with ten different designers from the classical design fields, and five senior executives working with organisation design on a daily basis. The participants were set to solve the same case presenting an organisation design challenge, thus enabling a comparison between how the two different groups of participants approached and worked with the assignment. The findings revealed that the designers would assume and work with the case challenge as if it were a complex problem, thereby proposing iterative complex problem solving methods from the professional design field to solve it. Conversely, the executives first decided upon a strategy before letting this decision guide the following design process. In addition, the executives’ behaviour deviated somewhat from how the contemporary management discourse indicates they would have reacted, to some degree relying upon pragmatic assumptions. The report thus concludes that the approach assumed by the designers differed widely from how the executives normally would work with such an organisation design challenge, and that the field of professional design offers many practical possibilities for how the organisation design discipline can develop and evolve in terms of new practices and directions. The study recommends a number of these possibilities to be adapted by the organisation design discipline, both for new practices and to inspire to new directions in future research. As the study only includes a select data representation it should not be used to generalise findings to encompass all designers and executives. In addition, as the study involves designers and complex problem solving, the main focus of the research has been on how the organisation design discipline could evolve in terms of dynamic and flexible designs.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages178