Design and Determination: the role of information technology in redressing regional inequities in the development process
Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot.
The second part of this book provides a detailed analysis of the technical design and development process. It takes as its starting point the increased significance of intellectual capital leveraged by information and communication technology in a globalising world economy. Access to both knowledge and material resources determines the policy and design choices available to decision makers beyond the core triad of the global economy described in Chapter 2.
To understand how global flows of information are undermining the distinction between manufacturing and service activities and the distinction between products and services new forms of locational and functional differentiation across a globalised network of invention, innovation and implementation must be examined.
In Part II design is defined as an activity which unifies product, process and organisation across geographical and cultural boundaries, as an aid to understanding the process of technological shaping within the globalising economy. The value of a design perspective is explained in relation to the literature on the social shaping of technology (Mackenzie and Wajcman, 1995).
Part II is concerned with the dynamics of "big design" - the
complex and tightly coupled high technology innovations that have allowed the
emergence of a global society. The military determination of the development
paths of advanced technologies in the crucial Second World War and Cold War
periods is evident in the examples used here.
Design as an activity links the service and manufacturing activities of the production chain. Rather than the replacement of manufacturing by service activity, we are witnessing the enhancement of the value of manufactured goods by their incorporation into services. As the distinction between products and services blurs we must examine new forms of locational and functional differentiation across a globalised network of invention, innovation and implementation. Design, defined as an activity which unifies product, process and organisation across geographical and cultural boundaries, can play a critical role in placing the strategies presently pursued in both manufacturing and services in a global context.
However, a nexus of conflicting and competing interests determines the outcome of complex design and development processes'
Chapter 6: Finding a lever to move the world: the design paradigm and its value
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Chapter 6 introduces a design paradigm as an aid to understanding this process of technological shaping within the globalising economy. This builds on the shift in manufacturing from established core to emerging periphery which was presented in Chapter 2. This shift reflects the success of the newly industrialising countries at the convergent stage of the design model presented here. It involves efficient production utilising mature technologies. However, the very different cognitive requirements of each design stage are a measure of the challenges facing countries like Malaysia and Taiwan, both of which have developed policies intended to take them from the essentially convergent tasks of global production to transformative and divergent activities.
The difficulties encountered by the East Asian economies in the nineteen-nineties highlighted the stresses inherent in the emerging global system. The tight coupling of the system propagates the diverse problems of these individual nation states across the globe. This chapter examines the emergence of strategies and alliances across regional and organisational boundaries with a model derived from design management.
Arguments around incremental versus systemic innovation in design, the literature on innovation, and implementation, and on the necessity of innovative milieux are introduced.
Chapter 7: Time-Frames and Design Decision-making
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Chapter 7 develops one aspect of incremental development: time-frames. Conflict between time-frames at different levels within a decision space may conflict with or frustrate the intentions of designers. The chapter looks at three cases of technology driven development strategies spanning several decades and the impact of conflicting time-frames. of the decision making on design and management processes.
"Time-frames" consist of a distinctive orientation to past, present and future, embedded in practice time-frames are embedded in practices, and incorporate assumptions about past and future conditions. This Chapter explores their value in the analysis of the outcome of programmes of technical and organsational development.
Characteristic time-frames can be identified in relation to the design, development and deployment of technologies, the construction of systems, financial and governmental processes and resultant regulations. Thus they may be entirely socially constructed as with government terms or fiscal periods, they may be largely imposed by a specific technology throughout the cycles of its constituent processes or development periods, or they may be derived from seasonal or natural cycles as with agricultural and related activities.
Time-frames thus offer a linkage between macro-economic, sectoral and case-study material. In the context of design and project management the result can be a premature decision based on an immature understanding of a problem, or supporting technology and ultimately, a design or systems failure. At the intra-organisational level these effects are likely to be perceived simply as part of a generalised environmental uncertainty. For a design to be robust it must incorporate some understanding of such externalities.
Chapter 8: Finding a Place to Stand: a metatechnical framework
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Chapter 8 describes an overall metatechnical framework to encompass the perplexing range of influences on individual design projects. It presents a framework of analysis which allows socio-technical concerns to link national and wider cultural and institutional contexts with the decision-making levels of the individual firm, or network of firms, and with the technical dynamics of the techno-economic paradigm.
Often designers appear to make or acquiesce to decisions which frustrate their own professional objectives. From a systems perspective, such results may be seen as suboptimization resulting from a conflict between the evaluative criteria appropriate to institutional and task environments. To be successful the design activity must address both. The alternative is to allow the conflict between technocratic consciousness originating at a technical level and overconformity attributable to the institutional level to give rise to pathological outcomes. The development of the space shuttle - the NASA Space Transportation System (STS) - is one illustration of this argument, and a metatechnical framework is advocated as necessary to the successful linking of task and institutional orientations.
The implications are that the technical environment of design decision-makers must be appropriately linked to the institutional environment in which their organisations as a whole must operate
Chapter 9: Culture, Design and Design Cultures: achieving
transferability and sustainability in development processes
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