Design Thinking and Contingency Theory: Why Some Firms Benefit More from Design Thinking than Others

11 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2019

See all articles by Sun-Young Ha

Sun-Young Ha

University of Potsdam - Hasso-Plattner Institut

Stefan Pasch

Goethe University Frankfurt

Date Written: December 3, 2019

Abstract

Design thinking (DT) has been often described as a strategic management tool that fosters user-focus, collaboration, and creativity. However, we argue that the benefits from its implementation depend on internal and external characteristics of firms. The aim of this paper is to discuss for which firms the usage of DT should be more (or less) effective. To do so, we scrutinize the literature on contingency theory, which argues that the effectiveness of management policies depends on internal and external contingencies, and apply it to design thinking. We discuss three internal contingencies (strategy, culture, and structure) and two external contingencies (industry product differentiation and industry dynamism). First, we argue that DT is more effective in organizations where its internal contingencies fit well with the creative and collaborative nature of DT. Second, DT should be more beneficial in industries that require an understanding of customer preferences and frequent adaptations to environmental changes. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to provide the basis for future empirical research that takes into account the contingent nature of design thinking.

Keywords: Design Thinking (DT), Contingency Theory, Organizational Environment, Corporate Culture, Strategy, Industry

JEL Classification: M11, M14

Suggested Citation

Ha, Sun-Young and Pasch, Stefan, Design Thinking and Contingency Theory: Why Some Firms Benefit More from Design Thinking than Others (December 3, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3497575 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3497575

Sun-Young Ha (Contact Author)

University of Potsdam - Hasso-Plattner Institut ( email )

Prof.-Dr.-Helmert-Str. 2-3
D-14482
Potsdam, Germany 14482
Germany

Stefan Pasch

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Gr├╝neburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

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