Confronting bureaucracies and assessing value in the co-production of social design research

Lucy Kimbell, Guy Julier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines the issue of assessing the value of social design research. It locates the emergence of social design practice and research against a background in which public and social organisa- tions are increasingly bureaucratised as a result of New Public Management and shifts to New Public Governance. Within univer- sities, too, organisational processes and structures require research to demonstrate impact within an audit culture. Through the study presented in this paper, we claim that the bureaucracies found in contemporary academia are ill-equipped to adequately assess gen- erative, impactful, and multi-sited research in which value is co- produced with diverse participants. This presents challenges when attempting to understand the value of social design research. Building on social research and studies of innovation policy, sustain- able human-computer interaction and evaluation, we define social design research as inventive, contingent, and political. To address the issue of its evaluation, we propose two-stage social design research. In the first stage, research issues, questions, methods, data, and ‘proto-publics’ are assembled, which reveal the conflicting framings and ways that value is assessed. These are re-assembled in a second stage during which the research is stabilised. The findings have implications for research managers, academics and their part- ners, and university administrators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-23
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Social design research
  • social design
  • interdisciplinarity
  • multi-disciplinarity
  • knowledge exchange

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