Facilitating Shared Understandings of Risk

Research output: ThesisPh.D. thesis

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This thesis contributes an identification of a key mechanism and its constituent qualities, for facilitating shared understandings of risk.

Globalisation and the pace of technological change increases the uncertainties of decision making within many design and innovation practices. Accordingly, the focus of participatory workshops has expanded towards addressing broader questions of strategy, business models and other organizational and inter-organisational issues. To develop effective partnerships across the boundaries separating companies, I argue that is necessary for those involved to gain mutual understandings concerning risks.

How to foster an exchange of perspectives in light of the challenging paradoxical, abstract and sensitive aspects of discussing risks is explored through comparing a selection of cases from different areas of my social interaction design practice. Accordingly, this action research influenced approach draws upon projects produced and tested in diverse contexts including educational and research collaborations with Danish industry, and events at British cultural venues. A number of different types of design artifacts and interventions were produced and deployed including 1) an example of a multi-user mechanical sculpture - Blender 2) an interactive simulation of this giant revolving door in which many participants improvised a performance of the Blender 3) a series of interventions utilising audiovisual transmissions to enable one person to act as a Cyranoid or proxy for absent others, 4) an incomplete comic with which children could contribute sketched ideas to a design process 5) a table top tool kits for discussing business relationship issues and 5) a number of bespoke interactive sculpture-like artifacts for provoking insights concerning business dilemmas.

Analysis of the cases reveals an underlying theme of breakdowns or ruptures as central to facilitating shared understandings of risk. Such breakdowns are shown to be made of, and valuable due to, a set of qualities detectable across much of the empirical material. How to exploit these qualities of boundary play, co-created facilitation and perspective plurality are illustrated through presentation of three further examples of experimentation with facilitation: dressing up abstract mapping, participants as interactive artifacts, and inflatable sticky notes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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