Abstract

Design thinking is a specific method to develop innovative solutions to wicked problems in multidisciplinary teams. The fact that people with different disciplinary and often also cultural backgrounds work together, makes it quite a challenge to compensate for deficits in common understanding of terminologies or mind-sets. Furthermore, team members from specific cultures and nationalities might have difficulties to cope with specific mindsets of design thinking. This paper analyses the impact of culture on the design thinking process in an educational context. How do people from different cultural backgrounds cope with the requirements of the design thinking mind-set? We suggest a list of criteria that are crucial for creative work in a design thinking context, based on a literature review and observations in an educational institution for design thinking. These criteria are then compared with Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. The results are summarized in a framework that outlines the criteria and the respective cultural dimensions. This framework might help educators and also practitioners, who want to implement design thinking in their universities or companies, to understand cultural differences and to identify and anticipate possible complications in design thinking projects.

Keywords:

Design Thinking; Education; Culture

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Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

The Impact of Cultural Differences in Design Thinking Education

Design thinking is a specific method to develop innovative solutions to wicked problems in multidisciplinary teams. The fact that people with different disciplinary and often also cultural backgrounds work together, makes it quite a challenge to compensate for deficits in common understanding of terminologies or mind-sets. Furthermore, team members from specific cultures and nationalities might have difficulties to cope with specific mindsets of design thinking. This paper analyses the impact of culture on the design thinking process in an educational context. How do people from different cultural backgrounds cope with the requirements of the design thinking mind-set? We suggest a list of criteria that are crucial for creative work in a design thinking context, based on a literature review and observations in an educational institution for design thinking. These criteria are then compared with Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. The results are summarized in a framework that outlines the criteria and the respective cultural dimensions. This framework might help educators and also practitioners, who want to implement design thinking in their universities or companies, to understand cultural differences and to identify and anticipate possible complications in design thinking projects.

 

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