Design Concepts and Design Practices in Policy-Making and Public Management: New Challenges and New Opportunities for Policy-Makers and Public Managers

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National governments around the globe are actively seeking new ways to engage in social innovation and are investing in innovation labs and innovation centers where methods and principles of design are now being explored and applied to problems of transforming and innovating the public sector (cf: US Personnel Department; National University in Australia; SITRA in Finland; Mindlab in Denmark and the Innovation & Improvement in the NHS in the UK). They are part of an effort to bring in new design approaches to policy-making and policy-implementation that promise to innovate and transform governments but they also pose new challenges for policy-makers and public administrators who are not yet familiar with design concepts, principles and methods beyond problem-solving. Despite the many linkages between and among design, designing, policy-making and policy implementation, we have yet to clarify how and what makes design relevant to policy-makers and public managers. Although policy-making, in its essence, constitutes a design activity, policy-making is not widely discussed in design terms. Literature on policy-making processes and policy design has treated design almost exclusively as a problem-solving activity (cf; Howlett and Ramesh 2003) driven by evidence-based models (Sanderson 2002). The art of inquiry, in contrast, has received little attention (Shields 1998). Very little is known about designing in regard to inquiring, inventing and discovering policy approaches. A policy, in this context, constitutes a guideline (or framework) that delineates the kinds of services and products, the relationships and the manner of the interactions that are possible, encouraged or discouraged within and by a particular human system. If our aims are to transform and to innovate government(s), we urgently need to understand the relationships between policy-making and designing. The aim of this paper is to prepare the grounds for such studies. It offers a critique of design as problem-solving in policy-making and explains how this understanding of design defies efforts at innovative policies that could “achieve more humanizing outcomes” (Lynch 1965) and meaningfully transform government. Problem-solving design is then contrasted with design as inquiry. The paper concludes that a more sophisticated understanding of design concepts, methods and practices in policy-making is a condition for the kinds of innovation and transformation government innovation centres are trying to achieve.
Publikationsdato30 okt. 2012
StatusUdgivet - 30 okt. 2012

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

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