Sociotechnical Dimensions of Design and Innovation: A Survey

Christian Clausen (Author), Yutaka Yoshinaka (Author)

    Research output: Non-textual formSound/Visual production (digital)Research


    The paper addresses interdisciplinary approaches to the study of design and innovation processes, by gathering and critically examining research contributions to date from a number of different scholarly traditions and practices including constructivist studies, participative design activities, as well as political process and design management oriented approaches. The research contributions examined stem primarily from international periodicals, book publications, and selected conference papers, and all attend, explicitly or otherwise, to “sociotechnical” dimensions in the processes of design and innovation. While the studies indeed vary as to their degree of theoretical aim or commitment, the paper’s analysis elucidates and expounds on the sociotechnical complexity which these studies nonetheless manage to address. The paper is thus a contribution to a further conceptual understanding of the sociotechnical dimensions of innovation processes. The paper’s analysis is itself guided by a reflexive stance as to the ‘social shaping of technology’, primarily drawing on an actor-network (ANT) understanding and perspectives based on the enculturation of innovations (e.g. inno-fusion or domestication of technology). The paper thus challenges the orthodox linear and sequential model of innovation and diffusion, which fail to capture and problematise the complexity of the dynamics involved in sociotechnical change. The paper takes a relatively broad stance as to what constitutes sociotechnical dimensions. A methodological heuristic, adopted for the selection of pertinent studies for examination, entails the degree to which the studies constitute elements of a heterogeneous nature in an interplay of technical (material), social as well as knowledge-based aspects. The studies are analysed in relation to the type of research questions and problem-settings addressed, as well as any discursive demarcations and lines of development in their research agendas. The paper identifies and delineates paradigmatic framings as to the sociotechnical dimensions of design and innovation processes in these studies, and how potential openings for design and social choice are explored through their particular framings. This literature survey is further supplemented with a few qualitative interviews dealing with the biographies of some research practitioners in the domain of sociotechnical aspects of design and innovation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2006
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventInternational ProACT Conference - Innovation Pressure : Rethinking Competitiveness, Policy and the Society in a Globalised Economy - Tampere, Finland
    Duration: 1 Jan 2006 → …


    ConferenceInternational ProACT Conference - Innovation Pressure : Rethinking Competitiveness, Policy and the Society in a Globalised Economy
    CityTampere, Finland
    Period01/01/2006 → …


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