AuthorYang, Lihua
  1. Introduction

    Although a desire to 'scientise' design can be traced back to ideas in the early twentieth century modern movement of design (Cross, 2001, p. 49) and the term 'design science (DS)' is perhaps first used by Fuller (1950, 1963) and adapted by Gregory (1966), there is 'a good consensus' (Baskerville, 2008, p. 441) that Simon is the pioneer of sciences of the artificial and DS because of his definition of artificial science and his groundbreaking research 'The Sciences of the Artificial' (Simon, 1996), in which Simon calls for the development of 'a science of design' and defines the science of design as a body of intellectually tough, analytic, partly formalizable, partly empirical, teachable doctrine about the design process. Although Cross (2001, p. 53) argues that a science of design is not same as a DS, he also notes that 'a 'science of design' seems to imply (or, for some people, has the goal of) the development of a 'design science' and defines DS as 'an explicitly organized, rational, and wholly systematic approach to design'. Furthermore, DS 'ranges across many academic disciplines', 'is not a separate academic discipline' (Baskerville, 2008, p. 442), and can be found in various fields, such as computer science and information systems (e.g., Hevner et al., 2004), organization and management studies (van Aken and Romme, 2009), and education (Kelly, 2003). Thus, Iivari (2007) argues that DS seems to be more of a research paradigm than a research methodology.

    Diverse approaches have enriched the study of public administration. Raadschelders (2008) identifies four main intellectual PA traditions: practical wisdom, practical experience, scientific knowledge, and relativist perspectives. He notes that the DS approach of PA that was first advocated by Simon (1996) and articulated by Shangraw and Crow (1989) approximately 30 years ago is an important feature of American PA. Miller (1984, pp. 251-268) also argues that a DS approach would be more 'useful' to public management than a natural science approach. Thus, the approach discussed by Shangraw and Crow (1989) has been considered 'great headway in public administration' (Overman, 1989, p. 159) and a method that 'may impart some academic cachet' (Frederickson, 2000, p. 48). Raadschelders (2008, p. 934) claims, 'Like the case study approach, the design science approach (...) appears to continue to hold the attention of scholars in public administration', although he also notes many doubts and critiques about this approach. That is, PA is also one possible problem arena of many possible arenas of DS.

    Although Simon's ideas have had a strong influence on DS research by many PA scholars, such as Miller (1984), Bobrow and Dryzek (1987), Daneke (1990), and Ostrom (1990), it is Shangraw and Crow (1989) who first proclaimed the DS approach of PA. Their recent study states the potential of public administration as a design science (Crow and Shangraw, 2016). Furthermore, the DS approach as a new perspective and new theory is clearly included in the history of the academic development of PA (Shangraw and Crow, 1989). Thus, studying the influence of the work by Shangraw and Crow (1989) and the subsequent development of the DS approach provides a good foundation to improve the development of this approach.

    The main objective of this study is to examine academic echoes of 'the revolutionary approach of PA as a DS proposed by Shangraw and Crow (1989)' (abbreviated as SCA), analyze the reasons for the faltering development of SCA, and develop a new design approach of PA. The structure of the rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 summarizes SCA and its fundamental characteristics. Section 3 examines academic echoes of SCA based on a systematic literature review and analyzes the reasons for the faltering development of this approach. Section 4 proposes a new bounded and incremental design approach (BIA) as a new development of the DS approach of PA and analyzes its basic characteristics, and six relevant ideas. This is an attempt to reconcile the relationship between PA as a DS and the alternative political theory (Overman, 1989, p. 160) as a middle way to respond to doubts about this approach, to improve its situation and its many 'implications and problems' (Overman, 1989, p. 150), and to discuss its possible development. Section 5 explores the main research content and courses of PA and some policy recommendations for PA practitioners under BIA. Finally, section 6 concludes.

  2. Shangraw and Crow's Revolutionary Approach (SCA)

    In the 1989 Minnowbrook forum, Shangraw and Crow examined Simon's notion of a 'design' science and discussed its applicability to the field of PA. In this way, they provided a third approach--PA as a DS--to compete with a middle-range theory approach and a phenomenological and interpretive technique approach. In their original research, they discussed several important aspects of this approach (see Table 1), however, they did not emphasize the bounded rationality of designers, limitations and possible negative results of this DS approach. Therefore, we can consider this original design approach of PA a revolutionary approach (relatively speaking).

    This revolutionary approach suggests that (1) public administrators can design all the systems, institutions, and instruments they want; (2) the role of PA is only or at least mainly to 'design and evaluate institutions, mechanisms, and process' (Shangraw and Crow, 1989, p. 156); (3) the process of considering design alternatives follows a formative path of goal setting, debate over predesign, and, finally, design improvement or redesign; (4) designers and designs can obtain almost all of the knowledge they need, although they are 'a function of a learning process where cumulative knowledge is essential' (Shangraw and Crow, 1989, p. 156); (5) if the academic community can accept the role of designer and evaluator, PA as a DS in academia and practice can be realized; (6) PA design scientists can know all 18 kinds of knowledge and only these 18 kinds of knowledge; and (7) there are some clear standards for the evaluation of designs, and they can be accurately and effectively measured. In summary, the original SCA is a relatively ideal and revolutionary framework.

  3. Academic echoes and reasons for the flattering development of SCA

    On December 29, 2016 (rechecked on January 8, 2017), I used Google Scholar and Web of Science to find 45 pieces that have cited the study by Shangraw and Crow (1989). After excluding four Spanish studies, four Chinese studies, and one English study that were not officially published as well as reprinted articles such as Overman (1989) and Daneke (1990), 35 English studies were obtained. Most of these studies were journal articles (Table 2). Citations emphasizing design or DS appeared almost five times more than those that emphasized only science. Furthermore, among the 14 citations with comments, eight were positive, three were negative, one was both positive and negative, and only one (Walker, 2011) included a new development of the work. Furthermore, there are some researchers who accept the ideas of PA as a DS but do not cite the 1989 work (e.g., Barzelay and Thompson, 2010). These indicate that after approximately 30 years, although the academic study of PA has realized the approach of PA as a DS, the academic community of PA has not fully accepted its role in PA design as well as the approach of PA as a DS. The citation distribution from 1989 to 2017 also indicates that although academic attention to this approach continues after 1989, it has been maintained at a relatively stable and low level (Figure 1).

    The reasons for the faltering development of SCA may be complex, but the following three are likely the most important.

    First, the fear of universal design and the Soviet system has led to an instinctive suspicion of this approach. The revolutionary characteristics of SCA further increased people's concerns about the tyranny of design and DS. Because of the undesirable practices by the Soviet Union and the fear of communism as well as the influence of the literature (Hayek, 1944, 1988; Popper, 1966), many modern researchers instinctively associate the design with the Soviet system, communism, and an authoritarian system. By drawing on an 'anti-rationalist' or 'empiricist evolutionary tradition' (Miller, 2010, p. 43), Hayek (1960) insists that advances in knowledge, institutions (or orders), and civilization are not the products of design and often emerge undirected and spontaneously. Hayek claims that the idea that institutions and civilizations can be designed is a fatal conceit (Hayek, 1988) that will lead to slavery (Hayek, 1944). Popper (1966) develops a critique of the theories of teleological historicism by Plato, Hegel and Marx. He claims that all of them believe that history unfolds inexorably according to universal laws and that they support 'Utopian social engineering', which argues that we can rationally design our ultimate political aim and find the best ways to realize it. In contrast to 'Utopian social engineering', Popper (1966) proposes his 'piecemeal social engineering', which claims that no one can have a blueprint for an ideal society and for social engineering on a grand scale. Blueprints for piecemeal engineering must be comparatively simple, for a single purpose, do little damage, be easily re-adjusted, and be less risky and controversial.

    Second, the purely scientific nature and objectivity stressed by SCA ignore the complexity of administrative problems and have aroused concern. As Raadschelders (2008, p. 934) noted, 'To be sure, Simon's design science is a pure science based on facts and tested propositions'. Many designers and design theorists have also realized that 'the act of designing itself is not and will not ever be a scientific activity' (Grant, 1979, p. 46). For instance, Gregory (1966) notes, 'Science...

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