July 12, 2008

Research Proposal on Design Management versus Design Leadership: A Comparison

1.0  Title

As initially drafted the working title of this research is – Design Management versus Design Leadership: A Comparison


2.0  Background of the Study

When it comes to commerce, design is described as a process of origination, development and execution of a particular plan for product, service, structure and/or component. As such, design processes transcends beyond a series of steps from design briefing to research and specification to conceptualizing to in situ testing to implementation. Dependent on the application itself, design involves the participation of particular design approaches and methods. Design management and design leadership fall under this umbrella.

Whether operational, tactical or strategic, design management is employ in order to formulate design-driven decisions concerning the market and the customers and therefore optimise business design processes and systems. As Mozota (2008) puts it, design management serves as the interface between management and design; and functions as the link to technology, design, design philosophy, internal and external marketing and management. Since also create value to the organisation by being a differentiator, coordinator and transformer, design shall be managed in such a way that it could build brand value and corporate innovation. Design managers integrate with the top management, corporate communications, R&D production and marketing (pp. 1-12).

Design leadership, on the other hand, is a relatively new concept. Often combined with design management, design leadership is considered to be as a leadership that generates the innovative design solutions. Turner and Topalian (2002) outlined the aspects of design leadership including "the difference in leading through design, the sustaining design leadership over time and the gaining of acknowledgement for achievement through design". Design leaders, hence, have core responsibilities on envisioning the future, manifesting strategic purposes, directing design investment, managing corporate reputation, creating an environment of innovation, training for design leadership.

Theorists and practitioners straightforwardly get confused when it comes to the concept of design management and design leadership. The Design Management Institute distinguishes that design management is reactive and is being responsive to skills, methods, tools and techniques specification unlike design leadership which is proactive as it leads based on vision encompassing communication to convey meaning and collaborate by means of motivation, innovation and creative solutions.

Philips (2004) claims that "at its best design management is design leadership arguing that it respects that past while guiding the present with an openness to the future." Primarily, design management is defined from the context of business and customer; hence, the direct linkage with goals, strategies, plans and processes. According to Raymond Turner, design leadership helps define the future and that design management is a tool for getting there (2000).      

Evidently, there had been a shift regarding the boundaries of design arguing that the ideology of design has something to provide further than design function and that the combination, or lack of interconnection, of design management and design leadership shall be reconciled. The rationale behind this research is to acquire a deeper understanding on the fundamentals and ideologies of both design management and design leadership and to reconcile such so as to provide clarity to business practitioners, design leaders and managers and for different organisations who perceived design as one of their vital components.     


3.0  Research Aims and Questions

The main purpose if this research is to conduct a descriptive research to arrive at conclusions and clarifications regarding the concept, fundamentals and processes of design management and design leadership. In lieu with this, the study will seek to answer this question: To what extent does design management and design leadership corroborate with each other? Why design management is considered to be just a part of design leadership?   


4.0  Research Methodology

To discover more and the build theories from the insights that the respondents will provide, inductive research strategy will be utilised. The research will be descriptive in nature as the research intends to present facts concerning the nature and status of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study (Creswell, 1994). It is also concerned with relationships and practices that exist, beliefs and processes that are ongoing, effects that are being felt, or trends that are developing. In addition, such approach tries to describe present conditions, events or systems based on the impressions or reactions of the respondents of the research.

This study incorporates primary and secondary research. The primary source of data will be the focus group interview to be conducted by the researchers. As planned, the interview will consists of 6 design managers and 6 design leaders. Acquiring secondary data are more convenient to use because they are already condensed and organized. Moreover, analysis and interpretation are done more easily. Secondary data will be acquired from literatures, mainly from written publications such as books and internet journals.


5.0  References



Mozota, B B 2003, Design Management: Using Design to Build Brand Value and Corporate Innovation, Allworth Communications, Inc., New York.


Philips, P L 2004, Creating the Perfect Design Brief: How to Manage Design for Strategic Advantage, Allworth Communications, Inc., New York.


Turner, R and Topalian, A 2002, Core responsibilities of design leaders in commercially demanding environments, Inaugural Presentation at the Design Leadership Forum.


Turner, R 2000, Design and Business: Who Calls the Shots? Design Management Journal.  

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