Design thinking in 2020: the perspectives of multidisciplinary graduate students

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in International Design Business Management
From the beginning of the new millennium, design thinking has started to be widely recognised as a promising technique for innovation and business management. The term design thinking has rapidly gained great popularity and became a globally known buzzword. Consequently, various conference sessions and certificate programs teaching design thinking have emerged in response to the demand in the field. However, despite the immense influence of design thinking on both academia and business, design thinking still remains a term that confuses people due to the lack of agreement over the concept. Recently it appears to be that both academia and industry has started casting doubt on the value and the applicability of design thinking. Regardless of this confusion, the rapid adoption of design thinking has already placed inexperienced designers and non-designers in a new challenging environment in which they are required to learn and perform the concept while there is still not a clear consensus on its definition and value. Previous research and practices of design thinking have heavily focused on identifying its characteristics such as processes, methods, and mindset. However, there has been limited attention to different experiences and conceptions of design thinking; how people learn design thinking, how people interpret it, and how people put it to use. Thus, the experience of design thinking is rather an underexplored area. Therefore, this research specifically aims to understand learners' conceptions on design thinking and particularly their individual experiences in adopting design thinking. In order to do so, this research provides literature review on the evolution of design thinking to contextualise the current discussions and criticism around the concept. In addition to that, in-depth interviews with nine graduate students having studied in the IDBM (International Design Business Management) program at Aalto University in Finland were conducted to provide a meaningful dialogue on the current state of design thinking, challenges, and insights for further development. 
Hilden, Elina
Thesis advisor
Hilden, Elina
design, thinking, multidisciplinary, practice, students, perspectives
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