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Activity Theory as a means for multi-scale analysis of the engineering design process: A protocol study of design in practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalDesign Studies
DatePublished - 1 May 2015


This paper contributes to improving our understanding of design activity. Specifically the paper uses Activity Theory to enable a multi-scale analysis of the activity of three engineering designers over a period of one month. Correspondingly, this paper represents the first work that explicitly investigates design activity across different scales, referred to as macro-, meso- and micro-scales. In addition to establishing the range of activities and tasks that occur at, and constitute, each scale the underlying relationships between the scales of activity are discussed. Further, the paper elucidates the wider implications of the proposed framework and its findings for both design research and practice. Central to these implications is the articulation of design as a complex fabric of interwoven processes.

Additional information

Date of Acceptance: 10/03/2015

    Research areas

  • case study, design activity, design practice, protocol analysis

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