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Designarbetets dolda rationalitet: en studie av metodik och praktik inom systemutveckling
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
1991 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As humans we constantly develop theories and methods in order to change and improve our way of working or to find better ways of conducting design work. This thesis is about this strive.The design process of particular interest in this thesis is system design, in the sense of design of computer applications. One major line of reasoning is that the rationality of design work underlying today's system design methods does not reflect the rationality in practice. If a design method is to be accepted by practitioners, it has to reflect a rationality related to the rationality familiar to the practitioners.A comparison is made between different kinds of design processes: the research process, the engineering process and the artistic process, in order to discuss the possibility of a generic design process. One conclusion is that there is no such thing as the "natural" or "given" design process.An outline of an ideal-oriented design theory is presented. The purpose is to make design practice understandable and to reveal the hidden rationale of design work. A rationale must be seen as the sum of at least three different forms of knowledge: reason, aesthetics and ethics, where aesthetics is the ability to judge (the aesthetical-practical form of knowledge). Today "reason" (in the sense of pure empirical-theoretical knowledge) is the dominant form of knowledge in system design methods, This leads to a view of design as problem solving and as "fixing a malfunctioning reality". The design process should instead be viewed as a creative way to design a new reality. In order to discuss this ideal-oriented theory, the concepts of vision, operative image, thought figure, design situation, and intuition are introduced.Some aspects of the design process emerge as particularly important. There is a shift of attention from problem oriented design to ideal oriented, from functionally oriented to aesthetically oriented, from depictive to creative. There is also a shift in the way we view designed artifacts. The artifact is to be seen as a social actor. The design process is a way to invent and establish the space of possible actions. To design is to create a social environment.As a result, the meaning of the concept "method" also changes. The purpose of a design method should be to develop the designers' design ability and to create readiness to act, not to guide the designers in a specific design situation. There is an elaborate discussion of what may constitute the design ability and of how a designer should a a and think in order to improve his design ability.The results of an interview study with twenty system designers are presented. The study shows that if we want to understand the hidden rationale of design practice, it is both meaningful and useful to view the system design practice as ideal-oriented design.The results of the interviews are formulated as a question: How would and could the methodology and practice of system design change if it were based on an ideal-oriented design theory? Some areas where further work and development ought to be done are presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1991. , 193 p.
, Rapport UMADP-RRIPCS, ISSN 0282-0579 ; 14
Keyword [en]
System design, design theory, rationality, aesthetics method, ideal, competence, computer, information systems
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79503OAI: diva2:642132
Available from: 2013-08-20 Created: 2013-08-20 Last updated: 2013-08-20Bibliographically approved

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