Abstract

This paper discusses the methodological problems arising in a dissertation research project to investigate potentially productive relationships between professional designers and home based craft makers who have not received formal design training. Informal observations by the researcher and other designers indicate that, when individuals from these two groups work together, in either professional or social settings, the craft makers’ practices may develop in productive ways. We have observed that this can occur and be beneficial in traditional home craft work in Turkey (the main field of the research), post-industrial craft practice in Britain and small-scale industry in both countries. In this research, the designer-researcher is a participant observer dealing with non-verbal communication and the exchange of tacit knowledge stemmed from interpersonal relationships with the participants. Since the knowledge transmitted or engendered in this research is tacit, it cannot be accessed purely by language-based methods although these can provide valuable triangulation. The elicitation of the tacit knowledge transmission was the most important methodological question that we faced. That is why we reviewed methods for reflecting on the actions to elicit tacit knowledge transfer by exploring the features of the methods that allow a managed programme of engagement between designers and home craft makers. The questions we have explored include an evaluation of Action Research and Participant Observation, observational video for capturing spontaneous actions and the ways learning theories might help us to identify and characterise the ‘silent’ tacit knowledge that is exchanged.

Keywords:

Tacit Knowledge, Design Learning, Home Crafts, Informal Production

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Knowledge Transfer from Designers to Home Crafts Makers: Negotiating Methods to Study Actions in Context

This paper discusses the methodological problems arising in a dissertation research project to investigate potentially productive relationships between professional designers and home based craft makers who have not received formal design training. Informal observations by the researcher and other designers indicate that, when individuals from these two groups work together, in either professional or social settings, the craft makers’ practices may develop in productive ways. We have observed that this can occur and be beneficial in traditional home craft work in Turkey (the main field of the research), post-industrial craft practice in Britain and small-scale industry in both countries. In this research, the designer-researcher is a participant observer dealing with non-verbal communication and the exchange of tacit knowledge stemmed from interpersonal relationships with the participants. Since the knowledge transmitted or engendered in this research is tacit, it cannot be accessed purely by language-based methods although these can provide valuable triangulation. The elicitation of the tacit knowledge transmission was the most important methodological question that we faced. That is why we reviewed methods for reflecting on the actions to elicit tacit knowledge transfer by exploring the features of the methods that allow a managed programme of engagement between designers and home craft makers. The questions we have explored include an evaluation of Action Research and Participant Observation, observational video for capturing spontaneous actions and the ways learning theories might help us to identify and characterise the ‘silent’ tacit knowledge that is exchanged.

 

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