International Perspectives on Business Innovation and Disruption in Design
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International Perspectives on Business Innovation and Disruption in Design

Edited by Robert DeFillippi, Alison Rieple and Patrik Wikström

The third volume of the International Perspectives on Business Innovation and Disruption book series focuses on the role of design innovation in transforming industry practice. An international cast of scholars and practitioners examine how design innovation is impacting the creation of new business models, innovative forms of service delivery, multinational innovation practices, the role of aesthetics and psycho-spatial dynamics in fostering innovation, and the types of design capabilities found in the most innovative businesses worldwide. Theoretically, many of the chapters focus upon design thinking and conceptualize design as a user centered, empathic and participative practice that allows diverse stakeholders to creatively contribute to business innovation.
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Chapter 5: Disrupting conventions in development: from ‘beneficiaries’ to ‘co-designers’

Ledia Andrawes, Anitha Moorthy and Adela McMurray


There is increasing pressure on development actors to do more with less and build programs that are self-sustainable with participation and shared value for beneficiaries, rather than dependency (Porter and Kramer, 2011). Therefore, the idea of shifting the collective mindset from seeing ‘beneficiaries’ as ‘co-designers’ poses some interesting questions for development actors and designers more broadly. A question that is explored in this chapter is: How can a shift from ‘beneficiaries receiving’ to ‘users co-designing’ increase development organizations’ performance and social accountability? The call for greater accountability for program beneficiaries in the development literature, referred to as ‘social accountability,’ has been discussed extensively for years (Burger and Seabe, 2014; Cronin and O’Regan, 2002; Ebrahim, 2005; Najam, 1996; Newcomer et al., 2013; Unerman and O’Dwyer, 2010). In practice, however, measuring performance and accountability toward beneficiaries in development programs are not prioritized to the same degree as they are for donors, on whom these organizations depend for survival (Edwards and Hulme, 2002; Gent et al., 2013; Najam, 1996). Donors place great emphasis and importance on ‘functional accountability,’ which is short term in orientation. This requires reporting on resources and resource use, preferences high levels of control during implementation and prioritizes the measurable and quantifiable over less tangible changes in human development (Dennehy et al., 2013; Ebrahim, 2003; Edwards and Hulme, 2002; Newcomer et al., 2013; Unerman and O’Dwyer, 2010). This is in stark contrast to long, iterative and people-centered projects that do not provide quick, tangible results or may not correspond with the outcome perceived by the initial plan. This latter approach is less favorable to donors, even if the project addresses the real needs of the beneficiaries (Dennehy et al., 2013). As a result, Smith (2010) claims, without the primary focus on ‘social accountability’ for beneficiaries, organizational performance and program sustainability becomes compromised.

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