Student Work

  • Design Studies (MA)

    Anke Gruendel

    From Product to Process: The Technopolitics of Design-Led Public Innovation

    The thesis "From Product to Process: The Technopolitics of Design-Led Public Innovation" has as its goal an initial mapping of the entanglements and elective affinities between public social design practice, innovation, and governance.  In focusing on a change in public administrative practices from a primarily technocratic planning approach to one that takes, in expressively utilizing design methods, as its basis for knowledge production not so much the authoritative expertise of a few highly trained individuals but grounds in (public) participation.  In that this denotes an epistemic shift which leads to a subsequent change in organizational structure (innovation labs), the introduction of design into public administration is indeed an important, if understudied, phenomenon. This thesis pays special attention to a transition in the understanding of expertise, its relationship to authority, and its structural integration into public decision-making bodies. Examples serving as a baseline for analysis are public innovation labs which are embedded in a highly interconnected international network of such governmental (and governmental) bodies.  This thesis identifies in the phenomenon of Public Design-Led Innovation Labs a larger transformation of the institutional understanding of public participation away from the dominant rational actor model toward an experiential actor whose legitimacy for participation grounds in experience of a situation or problem at hand rather than specialized training.  In the form of an extended essay as the basis for further inquiry, this thesis engages design as a phenomenon and a set of practices which manifest a change in the public production of authoritative knowledge as the basis for policy making or public service creation.