Living up to the expectations: The effect of design thinking on project success

Kristiana Roth, Dietfried Globocnik, Christiane Rau, Anne-Katrin Neyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Both academics and practitioners have paid increased attention to design thinking over the past years. Yet, there is still little empirical evidence about its effectiveness for achieving success in innovation projects. Based on the existing design thinking literature, we conceptualize the common themes underlying design thinking to describe the application level of design thinking practices in projects. Then, we elaborate on the performance relevance of design thinking. Besides a direct impact on project performance, we draw on organizational behaviour literature and argue psychological empowerment to be a core mechanism through which design thinking affects project performance. We test our hypotheses with 160 students participating in 62 innovation projects for companies. We find the effect of the application level of design thinking practices on project performance to be fully mediated by psychological empowerment. Our study contributes to the literature by providing empirical support for the performance relevance of design thinking and the underlying mechanism. Furthermore, we shift the perspective on design thinking from being an approach to solve complex or wicked problems to an approach facilitating motivation and empowerment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-684
Number of pages18
JournalCreativity and Innovation Management
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • design thinking
  • innovation projects
  • psychological empowerment
  • project performance

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