Fabian’s PhD work focuses on service design and in particular on the early stages of service design projects. Fabian is interested in understanding how practicing service designers make sense of the various stakeholders’ needs, wishes and demands of the service developed. Furthermore, he investigates how the insights from the stakeholder engagement is used throughout the design project. The insights are then problematized, pointing towards (potential) problems and areas for improvement for the service design discipline.
The various sub-projects within Fabian’s PhD are:
- Participant observatory fieldwork within service design consultancies, investigating their practices and approaches for engaging stakeholders and making sure that the stakeholder insights are used as a basis for the final designs.
- A comparative study of the ethnographic data produced by different types of ethnographers (interactions/service designers, anthropologist and mobile self-ethnography) in the same location.
- An interview study with practicing service designers on their stakeholder engagement and how the insights gained are used throughout the design process.
- An analysis of visualisations of stakeholder insights produced in live service design projects.
Fabian presents his dissertation on 25 October, 2013:
Service design is a field emerging from the new-found interest in services as a design material by practitioners and academics of the human-centred design tradition. As such, the field can build on the knowledge from previous work in design as well as in service research. Introducing a new design material may however also introduce new challenges to practice. The research presented in this thesis investigates how the design research phase of the human-centred design process is affected by making services a design material.
How users, staff and other stakeholders are involved in service design projects was studied in four studies. Two studies focused on getting a holistic view of how service designers engage stakeholders in their design research. The methods used for these two studies were interviews in one case and participatory observation in the other. The two remaining studies focused on specific aspects of the stakeholder engagement process. One compared how designers and anthropologists approach ethnography, whereas the second investigated the communicative qualities of service design visualisations.
It is argued that service design is a stakeholder-centred design discipline. The tools used in service design are to a large extent borrowed from other qualitative research traditions, but design-specific tools do exist. By analysing and synthesising the information obtained, it is then transformed into insights. These insights are visualised to provide easily accessible representations of service situations.
The final section of the thesis identifies challenges ahead for service design practice, based on the findings of the thesis and based on existing theoretical frameworks for the discipline.