Value-sensitive design practices for frugal innovations

In Cees Van Beers, Saradindu Bhaduri, Peter Knorringa & Andre Leliveld (eds.), Handbook on Frugal Innovation. Cheltenham/Camberley, UK: (forthcoming)
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This chapter focuses on technological innovation and how insights from technological design can be used to address the challenges associated with the setting in which frugal innovation operates. The resource-constrained setting of frugal innovation puts high demands the design requirements of frugal innovation technologies and the possible conflicts between these requirements. Within the ethics of technology, there is a growing literature that explicitly focuses on how to make technological design more sensitive to important moral values, commonly referred to as value-sensitive design or design for values. However, despite strong commonalities, frugal innovation does not feature as a strong application domain in the literature on value-sensitive design practices. Since frugal innovation takes place in and/or for a resource-constrained context, focusing on just one value could easily lead to other relevant values not being appropriately embedded in the design. For value-sensitive design practices to contribute to frugal innovation, it seems better to think in terms of ‘design for context X’ rather than ‘design for value X’, as the latter may be too narrowly focused on one specific value. Systematic research on design practices is necessary to gain more insight in which values are particularly relevant, both in terms of internal values and in terms of external values, but also in the relevant operationalisations, which may differ substantially in different contexts and which may make value conflicts both more complicated but also more easily solvable.

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Neelke Doorn
Delft University of Technology


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