Co-design for the development of new knowledge and practices in not-for-profit organizations

Busayawan Lam, Irini Pitsaki

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This article focuses on a specific form of collaboration between academic researchers and practitioners: co‐design. Generally, the strategic use of co‐design is considered to be beneficial because, among other reasons, it better aligns outcomes to user needs. In addition, active stakeholder participation engenders new network developments and strengthens existing links. Despite this, the extent to which the co‐design approach could be used to foster new knowledge and/or practices is hardly explored. Thus, our research applied co‐design methods to organizational practices and examined how they may bring about benefits for academic researchers and practitioners collaborating in the context of not‐for‐profit organizations. According to our findings, all stakeholders considered co‐design to be useful, as it helped them achieve desirable outcomes in a more inclusive and collaborative manner. The findings confirmed a number of benefits, among them confidence building. The size of organizations did not appear to affect the process or the outcomes. While most knowledge co‐created through these types of projects tends to be practical in nature, new theoretical knowledge was generated through critical examination of the process/results as well as through individual/group reflection. We consider this aspect to be particularly useful for other researchers and practitioners interested in applying co‐design principles to the not‐for‐profit sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-82
JournalDesign Management Journal
Issue number1
Early online date18 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2019


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