Design in the Time of Policy Problems

Lucy Kimbell


This paper discusses an emerging context in which design expertise is being applied – the making of government policy. It reviews existing research and identifies the claim that design changes the nature of policy making. The paper then adapts a conceptual framework from social studies of science to make sense of the encounter between design and policy making. The paper applies this lens to an empirical account of design being applied to policy making in a team in the UK government. The findings are that in addition to supporting officials in applying design approaches, the team’s work shapes the emergence of hybrid policy making practices, and at times problematizes the nature of policy making. It does this within logics of accountability, innovation, and reordering. The contribution is to provide empirical detail and a nuanced account of what happens in these encounter between design expertise and policy making practice. 


Policy Design labs

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989