Design-Led Approaches to Renewing Public Management and Governance

Purpose and objectives:

The Design-Led Approaches Special Interest Group (SIG) focuses on design thinking in public management – the application of design principles to policy ideation, department workflow, and public feedback. It is framed by its practitioners as ‘the next big thing’ in the public policy sphere. Our SIG interrogates current and emergent design-led approaches in public management and governance, promoting research that looks at where, when, and how design works in the public sector.

Research produced by Design-Led Approaches aims to enhance the methodological rigor and relevance of design methodologies in public management and policy environments. It seeks to offer theoretical and empirical explorations of the conditions that support the effective application and integration of collaborative design-led approaches within the public sector and government.

A key area of research explores the value and impact of ‘policy labs’ and other design-led approaches to value creation in public service delivery and policy-making. As labs proliferate across the globe, both in the private and public sectors, it is important that forums like ours exist to identify and discuss their benefits, limitations, and routes for improvement, particularly with regard to their common objective of encouraging public sector innovation.

Key dialogues, presentations, and outputs:

‘Design-Led Approaches’ provides discursive spaces for IRSPM members with an interest in public sector design to share ideas and interrogate one another’s work, including in research panels at IRSPM conferences. In this year’s conference in Wellington, N.Z., 12 papers were selected for presentation, with contributions coming from Australia, United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, and other countries, reporting on design and lab matters studied in a wide range of empirical contexts.

Our SIG has also organised other public and academic fora for discussion of public sector design, including: at the Danish Design Centre in 2018, where 14 papers were presented and Prof. Jenny Lewis delivered a keynote address; a public symposium in Utrecht in March 2019; and a research panel at the International Conference on Public Policy in Montreal in 2019. SIG members have also recently convened a special issue of the journal Policy and Politics on policy design and design in public administration.

 Other recent research outputs from SIG members include:

Primary contact:

dr. (William) WH Voorberg

William Voorberg

Erasmus University, Rotterdam

Email: voorberg@essb.eur.nl