July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Design engineers can greatly contribute to the growth of a business organization by not only creating relevant, contextually fit solutions for clients, but also by providing resilient responses to the changing constraints and opportunities external and internal to the organization. Unfortunately, the value-adding role of designers and indeed design project successes can be hindered by inadequate management of organizational tensions that persist over time and are widely experienced as paradoxical. Adopting the concept of ‘polarity management’ by Barry Johnson, this paper aims to unpack the nuances of two particular polarities: (1) Design Rigour vs. Cost Effectiveness, and (2) Collaboration vs. Efficiency.
The data are drawn from a larger grounded theory study on sociotechnical knowledge integration in engineering design. Semi-structured in-depth interview data were examined to identify the institutional and discursive barriers to designers’ effective value-creating roles, and compare effective/ineffective management practices that address the two selected polarities.
Unresolved polarities contributed to the problems of disconnect and misalignment that impeded effective design and/or caused loss of value in the project lifecycle. Comparative examples provided possible organizational strategies to enhance holistic design, responsible collaboration, and effective input among actors. Three sets of learning objectives are also proposed for engineering management or design curricula.
The analysis also identified important discourses and perspective changes needed in order to support effective polarity management. The findings provide a useful example of discursive mediation between organizational culture and organizational practices.
Ha, M. R., & Czekanski , A. (2021, July), Managing Polarities: Perception of Value, Designer Roles, and Organizational Conditions that Influence Design Outcomes in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37478
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