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Pascal Le Masson, Benoit Weil and Armand Hatchuel

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Pascal Le Masson, Armand Hatchuel and Benoit Weil

In this chapter, we analyze the relationship between creativity issues and design theory. Although these two notions seemingly correspond to different academic fields (psychology, cognitive science and management for creativity; engineering science and logic for design theory), they appear to be deeply related when it comes to design methods and design management. Analyzing three historical moments in design theory-building (the 1850s, with the ratio method for industrial upgrading in Germany; the 20th century with systematic design and the 1920s with the Bauhaus theory), we point to the dialectical interplay that links creativity issues and design theory, structured around the notion of “fixation effect”: creativity identifies fixation effects, which become the targets of new design theories; design theories invent models of thought to overcome them; and, in turn, these design theories can also create new fixation effects that will then be designated by creativity studies. This dialectical interplay leads to regular inventions of new ways of managing design, that is, new ways of managing knowledge, processes and organizations for design activities. We use this framework to analyze recent trends in creativity and design theories.