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Title: Framing humanitarian action through design thinking: integrating vulnerable end-users into complex multi-stakeholder systems through 'Agenda Space mapping'

Authors: Brita Fladvad Nielsen

Addresses: Department of Architecture and Planning, NTNU, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Abstract: This article explains how design thinking was applied as a research approach for the purpose of framing 'Humanitarian Action'. Insights from an initial study demonstrated the challenging experience of designing for humanitarian emergencies. Inability of the humanitarian market to integrate the perspective of the refugee as end-users results in stakeholders not working together. Through a design thinking research process, 'Agenda Spaces' emerged as a novel way of describing humanitarian action. 'Agenda Spaces' demonstrates each stakeholder's interests mapped in relation to others based on findings from participatory processes. The 'Agenda Spaces' approach also allows for the vulnerable end-user to be located as an integrated part of the system. This is a starting point for discussing long-term solutions to the problems inherent in humanitarian action. This approach is of relevance to anyone working within multiple stakeholder systems that include vulnerable and/or hard-to-reach end-users.

Keywords: design thinking; humanitarian action; complex stakeholder systems; vulnerable user groups.

DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2017.084502

Journal of Design Research, 2017 Vol.15 No.1, pp.1 - 16

Accepted: 11 Jan 2017
Published online: 30 May 2017 *

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