Technology-Based Design and Sustainable Economic Growth
Singapore University of Technology and Design
Alison L. Olechowski
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Christopher L. Magee
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
March 31, 2012
This paper seeks to analyze how design creates economic value. The literature on knowledge-based economic development has primarily focused on innovation as the analytical lens, whereas design is the original action that leads to innovation. Despite the fundamental importance of design, existing design research has offered few insights and little guidance for national strategies due to the lack of focus on and analysis of design in an economic context. This paper addresses such gaps by linking design research and economic development theory. We first elaborate on the relationship among design, invention and innovation, describing the necessity of design activity for invention and innovation. Our analysis of the fundamental characteristics of design across contexts sheds light on the strategic importance of the accumulative nature of technology-based design for sustaining economic growth. Through the lens of technology-based design, we further quantitatively compare Singapore and three similarly-sized countries (South Korea, Finland and Taiwan). Based upon interview data, we also qualitatively examine Singapore’s national strategy focusing on design. The quantitative and qualitative results align well with the Singaporean government’s use of design as a strategic lever to pursue innovation-driven economic growth, and also reveal its achievements and shortfalls which indicate possible directions for strategic adjustment.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: technologically-based design, invention, innovation, design capability, expertise, economic growth
Date posted: November 3, 2011 ; Last revised: January 27, 2015
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