A critique of design methodologies appropriate to private sector activity in development

In the corporate world, design has received increasing attention over the last 50 years and is now firmly embedded within almost all aspects of corporate activity. This article explores the role of design in development. Design is widely used and understood, within capitalist economies, to denote a diverse set of tools, used to maximise market share, sales, and profits, and support market differentiation and brand identity of products. The progress of two convergent design-related threads is briefly charted: the growth, since 1950, of a view that design has a real contribution to make to social responsibility and sustainability; and the increasing evidence of design-like skills being used in development contexts. The article reviews several alternative models that are being developed and concludes with a number of short case studies, which illustrate these models and highlight the potential of their largely process-based methodologies for private sector activity in a development context.