Measuring design investment in firms: conceptual foundations and exploratory UK survey

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Livesey, TF 

The importance of design to company and national performance has been widely discussed, with a number of studies investigating the value or impact of design on performance. However, none of these studies has measured design investment as an input against which performance can be compared. As yet, there is no established way in which design investment might be measured. Without such a method, we cannot develop a reliable picture, akin to that for R&D spending, on the impact of design spending on company performance.

This paper presents a conceptual framework for the measurement of design investment and applies this framework in a survey of UK firms. The framework describes design as being part of the creation and commercialization of new products and services. The survey highlights some surprising patterns of design spend in the reported sample and demonstrates the viability of the underpinning framework. A revised framework is proposed that situates design investment in the context of R&D. The model has implications for policy makers trying to understand the role and scale of design in the private sector, for managers wishing to optimize their design investments and for academics seeking to measure the value of design.

Design investment, Valuing design, design, R & D and innovation
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Research Policy
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Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/E507662/1)
This work was carried out as part of the Design Scoreboard project funded by the Design for the 21st Century initiative of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Design Council of the UK also provided financial support for the survey as well as valuable input and commentary throughout.