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Title: Organisations as artefacts : an inquiry into hidden design activities within situated organisational contexts
Author: Herfurth, Lorenz
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 6920
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2016
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The overall aim of this PhD is to provide insights into the hidden and socially-distributed design activities and behaviours through which members of an organisation contribute to its shape. How do those who are part of the organisational artefact contribute to the design of the artefact? Looking at an organisation as an artefact on the one hand acknowledges the human-made process that brings organisations into existence and the possibility that an organisation is a product of human action. On the other hand it raises questions with regard to the properties of this artefact and the design activities that lead to its existence or influence its development. A paradox is represented by the circumstance that an organisation is both made by and, at the same time, “consists” of humans. A small sample qualitative multi-case study was selected as the research strategy. One case is a retrospective study of an architectural construction project for a higher education institution in the UK, the other is a live study of a mass participation music performance that took place in a major UK city. Together they combine the wealth of material from a longitudinal and retrospective study with the detailed insights obtained from live observation. Analysis is partially grounded, prioritising an understanding emerging from the data itself rather than applying a specific concept to identify themes accordingly. However, fundamental understandings of design are applied to understand whether the design activities identified cohere with existing approaches or provide novel insights into hidden design actions. In both cases the findings confirm the existence of hidden and socially-distributed design actions in processes of organisational design. While fundamental indicators of design change are identifiable in selected events, novel characteristics add to existing understandings of design. Contributions this PhD makes concern the identification and description of hidden design activities within communities of non-expert, silent designers and the empirically supported specification of organisations as socially-designed artefacts. Specifically, the findings lead to the articulation of three contributions: design-before- design, an approach that promotes the acknowledgement of unique organisational settings before design interventions, socially-distributed design as an empirically supported extension of silent design and the resulting description of case studies as self-referential artefacts.
Supervisor: Murphy, Emma ; Easterby-Smith, Mark ; Cooper, Rachel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral