Sunday, September 26, 2010

Design theory and rationality

In my class on design theory we read some of the more influential design thinkers for the last decades. Tonight I read an article that I will talk about tomorrow. I did use this paper last year too, but did not read it carefully. Tonight I did--and what a great paper. The author is Armand Hatchuel and the article is "Towards Design Theory and Expandable Rationality: The Unfinished Program of Herbert Simon" ( Journal of Management and Governance Volume 5, Numbers 3-4, 260-273, DOI: 10.1023/A:1014044305704).

Hatchuel analyzes the work of Simon especially his notion of "bounded rationality". Hatchuel discusses the problematic issues with Simon's approach and makes a wonderful argument where he shows that Simon is  "stuck" in a problem solving paradigm where "design" is seen as a special case of problem solving, while in fact it is the opposite. Hatchuel develops this arguement in an elegant way and presents his own notion of "expandable rationality" which opens up for a nice definition of design as an approach with its own rationality. Looking forward to class tomorrow when we get a chance to discuss this paper. Anyone who is interested in what makes design unique in relation to problem-solving should read this paper.

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