Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
19-PM2-01: ST2.3 - Design & Experience at the Heart of Organizations: What Does it Take?
Wednesday, 19/Jun/2019:
2:45pm - 3:45pm

Session Chair: Estelle Berger, Strate School of Design, Sèvres, France
Session Chair: Caroline Gagnon, School of Design, Laval University, Québec, Canada
Session Chair: Frédérique Pain, Strate School of Design, Sèvres, France
Location: Room PC 20

Session Abstract

“Ultimately all problems of design merge into one great problem: ‘design for life’.” (Moholy-Nagy, 1947)

In the last decades, Design has been playing an increasing role in organizations and society. The discipline has shown its relevance to tackle systemic issues and transform “existing situations into preferred ones” (Simon, 1988), with human experience at the heart of its concerns.

For companies, Design represents a humanist approach as well as a strategic lever for innovation. Though, being a design-centric organization may not be self-evident for several reasons. Firstly, because Design and corporate cultures inherently differ [Design Culture]. Secondly, because deploying Design tools and methods requires appropriate forms of governance at company level [Design Management]. Finally, because the value created by an experience-based approach to design mainly remains intangible [Design Impact].

This track calls for contributions able to support and extend reflection on the strategic role of Design and Experience for organizations, especially in three directions:

- [Design Culture]

Design values and corporate culture: a marriage of convenience?

The elements of a Design culture, as well as the values and reasons driving designers’ action do not always resonate with companies’ ways of doing. How to create a dialogue between organizational and design cultures and resolve potential contradictions? How to understand and accept differences in order to work in symbiosis?

- [Design Management]

Meaningful forms of design governance: articulating tools & methods at organizational level

Deploying a design process and ways of doing is more than formalizing methods and applying design tools. Between the interdisciplinary methodological eclecticism of design and the current initiatives and trends to popularize it, how do companies position themselves? Depending on a specific context, how to use design tools and methods in a meaningful way?

- [Design Impact]

Measuring the value of Experience as an intangible asset in organizations

An experience-based approach to design orchestrates intangible aspects of customers’ and employees’ experience such as emotions, imaginary… But there is a lack of objective frameworks to measure such assets. What indicators are relevant to demonstrate the value of experience for brands and organizations? Will measuring transform and influence projects processes, management and evaluation at a company level?

From the field as well as through conceptual perspectives, submissions are expected to use scientific methods (e.g. multicase study, longitudinal study, discourse analysis…) or any other relevant epistemological frame able to support an analytic and/or critical approach.

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Are you what you eat? Making absorptive capability an operating capability: a Resource-based View Perspective of Strategic Design Management

Mélissa ALAUZE1, Thomas PARIS2

1i3-CRG/Ecole polytechnique & Exalt Design Lab/Strate, Ecole de design, France; 2GREG HEC/CNRS & i3-CRG/Ecole polytechnique, France


Becoming more innovative and creative are new strategic imperatives that face organizations (Burger-Helmchen et al, 2016). In recent years, some companies internalized design competence (Lockwood & Papke, 2018). But these organizations, which used to externalize creative activity, seem to struggle in deploying appropriately these new resources within their historical organization.


Resource-based theory aims at understanding how a company is able to generate value by focusing on the specificity of its resources and its capabilities to use and deploy them (Barney, 1991; Wernerfelt, 1984). In order to (re)gain competitive advantage (Porter, 1985) organizations develop dynamic capabilities by acquiring and developing new strategic resources (Teece et al., 1997). Maritan & Peteraf (2011) show how the acquisition of resources generates heterogeneity within the organization, highlighting the need for managers to think about effective resources orchestration (Sirmon et al, 2011) and appropriate resources governance (Zahra et al, 2009). In the case of value generation through integrated design (Lockwood, 2011; 2008; Borja de Mozota, 2003), the way creative resources are organized (Paris, 2013, Oakley, 1984) is decisive to achieve efficiency and innovation imperatives of the firm (Abecassis & Benghozi, 2012).

Literature Gap

Crossing Resource-based View and Design Management, this paper aims at exploring the creative resource absorptive capability of an organization by seeking to establish the specificities of the integration of creative resources and the qualification of these resources to better understand the differences between internal and external creation models.

Research Questions

This paper tries to answer two questions: (1) what are the specificities of creative resources? (2) Does the absorptive capability of an organization mean capability? More specifically to our case, is the integration of design resources enough to make an organization, a creative company?


A qualitative and empirical research was adopted to fully explore and understand the dimensions of the organizational phenomenon studied (Giroux, 2003). This research is based on an in-depth longitudinal case study (Dumez, 2016) in an actions-research set-up (David, 2000) within a major mass retailer, Carrefour Group.

Empirical Material

Carrefour integrated its first design resource in the late 2009. The Carrefour design entity has gradually developed and structured design resources into five areas of design application: (1) trends, colors, materials and finished, (2) branding and visual identity, (3) product design, (4) packaging and (5) retail design. Almost ten years after the integration and development of these creative resources, the company is still wondering about the most appropriate way to mobilize these creative resources to generate value, and how this design activity can fit into the overall strategy, processes and structure of the organization.

Three main data sets were collected through (1) semi-structured interviews, (2) participant-observation: one of the author is fully part of the design department and can easily observe and take part in special management meeting, project life cycle and informal talks; (3) archival documents as projects dashboards and project outputs.

Data were analyzed through a descriptive narrative strategy (Langley, 1999) to provide a detailed case study of the five design applications and through a mapping of current design activity based on the overall design projects.


The results of the study explain the acquisition and development process of design resources and the associated paradoxes of in-house design management. The collected data allowed us to identify (1) design resources, (2) the way they are integrated, deployed and mobilized within the organization’s strategy, process and structure (both historical and current view), and (3) the related tensions encountered and their management.

Contribution to Scholarship

This study contributes to the emerging dynamic perspective of the Research-based View literature and consolidates the strategic design management field by understanding by which processes an organization is able to acquire and develop new strategic design resources.

Contribution to Practice

The managerial results highlight the impacts of the integration and development of design resources upon organizational strategy, process and structure and the associated in-house design management paradoxes to take in count.


This paper is related to the overall conference theme by bridging both theoretical and practical issues. Resources-based view theory has its roots on theoretical foundations, often challenged for its lack of direct utility for practitioners, while they are looking for recommendations to manage new creative strategic resources.


Abecassis‐Moedas, C., & Benghozi, P. J. (2012). Efficiency and innovativeness as determinants of design architecture choices. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 29(3), 405-418.

Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of management, 17(1), 99-120.

Borja de Mozota, B. (2003). Design management: using design to build brand value and corporate innovation.New York: Allworth Press.

Burger-Helmchen, T., Hussler, C., Cohendet, P. (2016), Les Grands Auteurs en Management de l’innovation et de la créativité. Eds. Caen : EMS, Management et Société.

David, A. (2000, May). La recherche intervention, un cadre général pour les sciences de gestion. In IXe Conférence Internationale de Management Stratégique, Montpellier (Vol. 24).

Dumez H, (2016). Méthodologie de la recherche qualitative, Paris :Vuibert

Giroux, N., (2003), “l’étude de cas”, dans Y. Giordano (dir.), Conduire un projet de recherche. Une perspective qualitative, Caen, Éditions EMS, p. 42-84.

Langley, A. (1999). Strategies for theorizing from process data. Academy of Management

review, 24(4), 691-710

Lockwood, T. & Papke, E. (2018) Innovation by Design: How Any Organization Can Leverage Design Thinking to Produce Change, Drive New Ideas and Deliver Meaningful Solutions, Wayne: Career Press.

Lockwood, T. (2011). A study of the value and applications of integrated design management. The handbook of design management, 244-259.

Maritan, C. A., & Peteraf, M. A. (2011). Invited editorial: Building a bridge between resource acquisition and resource accumulation. Journal of management, 37(5), 1374-1389.

Nadler, D. A., & Tushman, M. (1999). The organization of the future: Strategic imperatives and core competencies for the 21st century. Organizational dynamics, 27(1), 45-45.

Oakley, M. (1984). Organising design activities. The Handbook of Design Management. Oxford.

Paris, T. (2013). Des mariages féconds? Comprendre la diversité des modes d'organisation de la création. In Annales des Mines-Gerer et comprendre (No. 3, pp. 30-39).

Porter, M. E. (1985). Competitive Advantage, Free Press New York.

Sirmon, D. G., Hitt, M. A., Ireland, R. D., & Gilbert, B. A. (2011). Resource orchestration to create competitive advantage: Breadth, depth, and life cycle effects. Journal of management, 37(5), 1390-1412.

Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., & Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic management journal, 18(7), 509-533.

Wernerfelt, B. (1984). A resource‐based view of the firm. Strategic management journal, 5(2), 171-180.

Zahra, S. A., Filatotchev, I., & Wright, M. (2009). How do threshold firms sustain corporate entrepreneurship? The role of boards and absorptive capacity. Journal of business venturing, 24(3), 248-260.

Embedding designers in user experience projects within a non-design intensive company

Julie Sahakian1, Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini2

1i3-CRG,École polytechnique,CNRS,Université Paris-Saclay, and Exalt Design Lab, France; 2HEC


In recent years, scholars in management and practitioners shared a growing interest in embedding design in non-design intensive organizations (i.e. organizations with less than 30% of designers). This research aims at understanding the articulation between designers and non-designers and design mobilization in the context of experiential services innovation projects.


The value of design contribution has been proven either in New Product development projects, or more generally in innovation context, underlining the focus on the user experience as a key differentiator (Brown, 2009 ; Martin, 2009 ; Fixson et Seidel, 2013; Liedtka, 2015 ; Carlgren et al. 2016 ).

Contributions exist on the adoption of design by novice teams (Seidel and Fixson, 2013) and on conditions to empower non professional designers to practice design (Fayard et al. 2017). This can be done by designers who on top of designing services, can transfer design knowledge to non-professional designers (Sangiorgi & Prendiville, 2017). Michlewski (2008) and Kleinsmann et al., (2017) defined design attitudes, skills and methods that require to be transmitted. Rosensweig (2011) studied designer and non-designer interactions, and difficulties for non professional designers to understand the design process.

Literature Gap

Very few researches focused on understanding the articulation between designers and non-professional designers in projects. We lack contributions focusing on the way embedded-designers interact with others and the contexts of design mobilization within the organization. We address that gap in the case of experiential services innovation projects.

Research Questions

What are the critical factors for a successful integration of designers in services projects undertaken in a non design intensive firm? How projects contribute in building a design capability of the firm?


The research took place in a French service organization. The research follows a qualitative action-research approach (David, 2000; Dumez, 2016). Two experience design projects held within the same business unit were selected. They were « polar types » (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2003): corresponding to two different processes and leading to very different results. In the analysis, we focused on two units of analysis: the project and the actor’s interactions between the user experience team members (including designers and non-designers) and the other projects stakeholders.

Empirical Material

The collected material includes notes from observations and interviews in the field; video and audio recordings of 7 meetings with members of one of the projects for feedback collection ( between 5 and 15 people); as well as three interviews with stakeholders from design entities at different levels; access to internal documents and physical artifacts produced on projects (e.g. internal correspondence, project framing and monitoring documents, presentations). Collected data were analyzed using the Clark and Wheelwright (1993) framework that combines a chronological and a content description of the project. The two cases studied have shown a different articulation scheme between the experience design team and the operation teams.


This study highlights key success factors and efficiency principles regarding the mobilization of designers in experiential services innovation projects. It points out several risks related to various types of design contribution such as difficulties to bringing design concepts to life, to transform deliverables into tangible improvements. It helps to understand the motivations and role of design mobilization for the various project stakeholders in this context and evidences potential dissonances. Eventually, it questions the optimal timing to invoke design contribution in projects led by non-design teams.

Project A is a prospective project intended to sketch out an ideal customer experience. Project B intended to enhance a complex process to renew its operation. Project A evolved far from the dominant project management model of the company and turned out to be a great success unanimously claimed. Project B was representative of this dominant model and the contribution of the experience design team was not easy. After a massive rejection of the project orientations, by numerous stakeholders, project B was momentarily interrupted until further notice. In both cases, the project teams faced multiple challenges, as neither project A or B appears ideal.

Contribution to Scholarship

This research draws on recent studies on design-embedding and experience design to offer new knowledge on defining design contribution in a non design intensive organization. We propose critical issues to consider when mobilizing design for user experience projects.

Contribution to Practice

This paper provides useful guidelines to help designers positioning themselves in experiential services innovation projects, while enlightening non-designers on what they could expect/ask from designers in similar contexts. Recommendations and hypothesis are formulated regarding risks to prevent, to maximize the value of the designers and experience design team contributions in a non-design intensive organization.


The challenge of articulating design mobilization with existing practices and methods in place in the organization (in the context of experiential services innovation projects) seems relevant to the second theme of this year conference on Co-creation, Creativity & Design and especially to the track 2.3.


Brown, T., Katz, B., 2009. Change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation, 1st ed. ed. Harper Business, New York.

Carlgren, L., Rauth, I., Elmquist, M., 2016. Framing Design Thinking: The Concept in Idea and Enactment: Creativity and Innovation Management. Creat. Innov. Manag. 25, 38–57.

Clark, K.B., Wheelwright, S.C., 1993. Managing new product and process development: text and cases. Free Press ; Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; Maxwell Macmillan International, New York : Toronto : New York.

David, A., 2000. Logique, épistémologie et méthodologie en sciences de gestion : trois hypothèses revisitées, in: Les nouvelles fondations des sciences de gestion. Vuibert-FNEGE, Paris, pp. 83–109.

Dumez, H., 2016. Méthodologie de la recherche qualitative: les 10 questions clés de la démarche compréhensive.

Eisenhardt, K.M., 1989. Building Theories from Case Study Research. Acad. OManagement Rev. 14, 532–550.

Fayard, A.-L., Stigliani, I., Bechky, B.A., 2017. How Nascent Occupations Construct a Mandate: The Case of Service Designers’ Ethos. Adm. Sci. Q. 62, 270–303.

Kleinsmann, M., Valkenburg, R., Sluijs, J., 2017. Capturing the Value of Design Thinking in Different Innovation Practices 11, 16.

Liedtka, J., 2015. Perspective: Linking Design Thinking with Innovation Outcomes through Cognitive Bias Reduction: Design Thinking. J. Prod. Innov. Manag. 32, 925–938.

Martin, R.L., 2009. The design of business: why design thinking is the next competitive advantage. Harvard Business Press, Boston, Mass.

Michlewski, K., 2008. Uncovering Design Attitude: Inside the Culture of Designers. Organ. Stud. 29, 373–392.

Rosensweig, R.R., 2011. More than Heroics: Building Design as a Dynamic Capability: Design as a Dynamic Capability. Des. Manag. J. 6, 16–26.

Sangiorgi, D., Prendiville, A. (Eds.), 2017. Designing for service: key issues and new directions. Bloomsbury Academic, London.

Seidel, V.P., Fixson, S.K., 2013. Adopting Design Thinking in Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices: Adopting Design Thinking in Novice Teams. J. Prod. Innov. Manag. 30, 19–33.

Yin, R.K., 2003. Case study research: design and methods, 3rd ed. ed, Applied social research methods series. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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