Evaluating the effectiveness of design support for small and medium sized enterprises in Scotland.
Gulari, Melehat Nil
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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of economic growth and job creation. Governments have devoted considerable resources to increase their competitiveness in the market. Several design support programmes (DSPs) have emerged from this investment to promote design as a strategic resource for innovation and business growth. Although existing research indicates that an effective use of design can enhance the business performance, a lack of interest amongst SMEs to work with designers is cited in several studies. Despite the great amount of money, energy and time that has been spent on design support for SMEs, there is still a lack of knowledge about effective delivery and evaluation. This thesis focuses on the problem of finding better ways to assist SMEs with design for economic growth by evaluating the effectiveness of design support for SMEs. This research, therefore, has examined the activities of UK-based DSPs, investigated the expertise of design consultancies and inquired about the self-image of designers in order to expand the knowledge of design support for SMEs. The research applied an interpretive paradigm, where multiple realities are recognised as socially constructed. Data was gathered through interviews with individuals representing DSPs, SMEs, design consultancies and government support agencies assisting SMEs. Observation of business support events and publicly available documents were used as additional sources. A thematic analysis and a systematic metaphor analysis were employed to examine the resulting data. The research has highlighted a number of key issues that are pivotal to the success of design support for SMEs. This PhD research also proposes two explanatory frameworks to contribute to design theory and practice: a seven-step evaluation framework for planning and evaluating the outcomes of DSPs and a re-framing of the generalist-specialist dilemma that can inform the activities of design consultancies and DSPs and can guide designers to improve their expertise.
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