Putting the “Design” Back into Organizational Design: The Case of High Social Value-Creative Business Models

Putting the “Design” Back into Organizational Design: The Case of High Social Value-Creative Business Models

Jonatan Jelen (Parsons The New School for Design, School of Design Strategies, New York, NY, USA), Matthew Robb (Parsons The New School for Design, School of Design Strategies, New York, NY, USA) and Kaleem Kamboj (Parsons The New School for Design, School of Design Strategies, New York, NY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jisss.2013040106
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Abstract

Currently there is no veritable role for design, designers, or design methodology associated with ‘organizational design’. Rather, the design of an organization is a byproduct of tactics and management bureaucracy. In postmodern, post-industrial, and post-capitalist organizational entities the role of design is subordinate and residual at best. In this concept paper the authors demonstrate that (a) an entrepreneurial and organic perspective on design is challenged by the paradigmatic and transformational effects of information and information technology on firm; and (b) that the apparent problematic absence of a design theory and the existence of the firm can be reconciled via the involvement of design managers with their presumed design-methodological grounding. They advocate substituting the anachronistic evolutionary speciation of organizational design with a perspective based on ‘intelligent design’.
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The Origins Of An Insufficiently Leveraged Design Approach

Unprecedented levels of environmental complexity, speed of change, and intensity of transience are rendering it increasingly difficult to appreciate the benefits of coordinated human productive activity in ‘organizations’ as originally and more ideally conceived by such prominent representative contributors to organization studies as Adam Smith, Max Weber, Ronald Coase, or Peter Drucker.

Adam Smith captured the essence of the firm as a more sustainable alternative to the preceding centuries of trial and error to coordinate human innovative capabilities and generative energy (Smith, 2001). Under trial and error, resources were being repeatedly wastefully sacrificed; consequently, economic expansion was slow and social progress constrained. To meet the insatiable consumptive aspirations of the enlightened post-agrarian society, a novel construct was necessary. It would by far exceed the limitations of social structuration of the productive extended family in the cottage system as well as the capital-intensive and capitalist-centric entrepreneurial ventures of early corporate forms. It cleverly leveraged the ‘automative’ potential of machines of the early industrial movement to extend the life and capability of capital. And it combined it with the near-infinite possibility of labor to specialize.

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