Top ten download success for Nuno and Carliss’ paper


Nuno Gil, Research Director and Founder of the Manchester Centre for Infrastructure Development, jointly with Harvard Business School Professor Carliss Baldwin, have published a new paper that has quickly made the Social Science Research Network’s most downloaded lists. Titled ‘Creating a Design Commons: Lessons from Teachers’ Participation in the Design of New Schools’, it now features on the top ten list for ‘Organisations and Markets: Organisational Forms’.

Breaking the mould of ingrained paradigms, the thought-provoking paper uses the term ‘design commons’, and argues that such an organisation is at the heart of major capital projects. The study links design theory with commons theory – the latter developed by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom to provide a counterargument to the notion that collective self-governance always leads to tragic outcomes. In this paper Nuno and Carliss shed light on a conundrum that has long perplexed scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers around the world – why do capital projects seem to invariably run late, over budget and disappoint end-users?

The study is based on the intriguing decision made by Manchester City Council to share design rights with the school faculties as part of a vast capital programme to build 30 schools. Through careful analysis, Nuno and Carliss argue that the commons organisation encouraged teachers to volunteer their operational knowledge – something that was indispensable in helping the local council produce designs aligned with the schools’ needs.

While Nuno and Carliss stress that the governance of the design commons was a struggle, they optimistically show that across all schools there was no ‘tragedy of the commons’ in terms of budget overruns, inefficient processes, or disgruntled end-users. Using the principles of Ostrom’s theory, they demonstrate that underpinning this successful and sustainable outcome was a relatively robust design commons organisation.

The thought-provoking paper concludes by sketching out a ground-breaking theory as to when and why a commons can be an advantageous organisational form to help resolve complex design production problems.

You can download the paper here >>



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