“What a designer does in a municipality?” – different approaches towards design in three Danish municipalities

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In recent years, design in the public sector has gained popularity amongst policymakers as well as among scholars. Design is perceived as a promising way to create more successful policies and public services. Out of many different approaches, design thinking (DT) has become significantly popular, as it promises to deal with wicked problems in a new way. Despite growing popularity, however, a critical reflection on benefits and challenges, as well as about different understandings of DT practices in public sector, are still lacking. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate different ways public organisations engage and introduce DT. In this paper we present 3 different municipalities in Denmark and the way design and DT is understood and implemented in organizational work practices. Our contribution to theory is twofold. First, our research responds to the recent call of different researchers to investigate how DT is operationalised and drawn upon in practice by different organizations in the public sector. Second, our research contributes to the design field, by showing barriers of implementations, different benefits and challenges connected with design implementation in organisations with no prior experience in design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDRS2022: Bilbao
Number of pages15
PublisherDesign Research Society
Publication date25 Jun 2022
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-91229-457-2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2022
EventDesign Research Society Conference 2022 - Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 25 Jun 20222 Jul 2022


ConferenceDesign Research Society Conference 2022
SeriesProceedings of DRS


  • design
  • design thinking
  • design science
  • co-creation
  • public policy
  • public administration


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