Advertisement

Quantifying the effects of various factors on the utility of design ethnography in the developing world

  • Amy E. Wood
  • Christopher A. Mattson
Original Paper
  • 22 Downloads

Abstract

Ethnography, a tool traditionally used by social scientists, has been adopted by product design engineers as a tool to build empathy, understand customers and their contexts, and learn about needs for a product. This tool is particularly valuable for designers from the developed world working on products for customers in developing communities as differences in culture, language, and life experience make the designer’s intuition less reliable in these communities. This paper reports the use of design ethnography under a variety of conditions in the developing world. The data analyzed here come from field studies completed in four different developing communities on four different continents. Researchers had varying degrees of cultural familiarity, language fluency, and community partner participation in each location. Other factors were also included in the study such as the effects of gender and age of the respondents, the ethnographic activity used, and others. Some of the results are intuitive and some are surprising, but all are quantified through rigorous statistical analysis. The results of this study can help design teams of all types including NGOs, student teams, industrial teams, and any other team with an interest in product design in developing communities. These results can help teams plan their own ethnographic activities to increase the likelihood of collecting information that is useful for making product design decisions based on the conditions of their particular project.

Keywords

Design ethnography Poverty alleviation Design for the developing world Engineering for global development Resource-poor Low resource 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to recognize the National Science Foundation Grant CMMI-0954580 for funding this research. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

References

  1. Allen JD, Mattson CA, Thacker KS, Ferguson SM (2017) Design for excess capability to handle uncertain product requirements in a developing world setting. Res Eng Des 28(4):511–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ambole LA, Swilling M, MRithaa MK (2016)Google Scholar
  3. Anderson RJ (1994) Representations and requirements: the value of ethnography in system design. Hum Comput Interact 9(3):151–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aranda JC, Jagtap S, Moultrie J (2016)Google Scholar
  5. Ball LJ, Ormerod TC (2000) Applying ethnography in the analysis and support of expertise in engineering design. Des Stud 21(4):403–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barab SA, Thomas MK, Dodge T, Squire K, Newell M (2004) Critical design ethnography: designing for change. Anthropol Educ Q 35(2):254–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beede DN, Julian TA, Langdon D, McKittrick G, Khan B, Doms ME (2011) Economics and statistics administration issue brief (04-11)Google Scholar
  8. Berg B, Lune H (2013) Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Pearson Education, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Blomberg J, Giacomi J, Mosher A, Swenton-Wall P (1993) Participatory design: principles and practices, pp 123–155Google Scholar
  10. Bowling A, Ebrahim S (2005) Handbook of health research: investigation, measurement and analysis. McGraw-Hill International, PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
  11. Brase CH, Brase CP (2013) Understanding basic statistics. Cengage Learning, BostonGoogle Scholar
  12. Brooke T, Burrell J (2003) Proceedings of the 2003 conference on designing for user experiences (ACM), pp 1–4Google Scholar
  13. Chen CH, Khoo LP, Yan W (2003) Evaluation of multicultural factors from elicited customer requirements for new product development. Res Eng Des 14(3):119–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chikweche T, Fletcher R (2012) Undertaking research at the bottom of the pyramid using qualitative methods: from theoretical considerations to practical realities. Qual Mark Res Int J 15(3):242–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chipchase J, Steinhardt S (2013) Hidden in plain sight: how to create extraordinary products for tomorrow’s customers. Harper Collins, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Cole TJ, Rousham EK, Hawley NL, Cameron N, Norris SA, Pettifor JM (2015) Ethnic and sex differences in skeletal maturation among the Birth to Twenty cohort in South Africa. Arch Dis Child 100(2):138–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crabtree A (1998) Proceedings of the 1998 participatory design conference, pp 93–105Google Scholar
  18. Creswell JW, Poth CN (2017) Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  19. Dahlberg L, McCaig C (2010) Practical research and evaluation: a start-to-finish guide for practitioners. Sage, Thousand OaksCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Deininger M, Daly SR, Sienko KH, Lee JC (2017) Des StudGoogle Scholar
  21. Dray SM, Siegel DA (2009) IFIP conference on human–computer interaction. Springer, Berlin, pp 950–951Google Scholar
  22. Eccles JS (2007) Where are all the women? Gender differences in participation in physical science and engineering. American Psychological Association, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Emerson RM, Fretz RI, Shaw LL (2011) Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fetterman D (2010) Ethnography: step-by-step. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  25. Freedman DA (2009) Statistical models: theory and practice. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  26. Girón JPH, Domínguez Hernández ML, Jiménez Castañeda JC (2004) Participatory methodologies and the product development process: the experience of Mixtec craftswomen in Mexico. Dev Pract 14(3):396–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Green MG, Linsey JS, Seepersad CC, Wood KL, Jensen DJ (2006) ASME 2006 international design engineering technical conferences and computers and information in engineering conference (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), pp 99–113Google Scholar
  28. Hilbe J (2009) Logistic regression models. Chapman & Hall/CRC texts in statistical science. CRC Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=tmHMBQAAQBAJ
  29. Hosmer DW Jr, Lemeshow S, Sturdivant RX (2013) Applied logistic regression, vol 398. Wiley, OxfordCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  30. Hughes J, O’Brien J, Rodden T, Rouncefield M, Sommerville I (1995) Requirements engineering, 1995. In: Proceedings of the second IEEE international symposium on (IEEE), pp 27–34Google Scholar
  31. Human Centered Design Toolkit (http://IDEO.org) (2011)
  32. Jagtap S, Larsson A, Kandachar P (2013) Design and development of products and servicesat the base of the pyramid: a review of issues and solutions. Int J Sustain Soc 5(3):207–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jagtap S, Larsson A, Hiort V, Olander E, Warell A, Khadilkar P (2014) How design process for the Base of the Pyramid differs from that for the Top of the Pyramid. Des Stud 35(5):527–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Juliet C, Strauss A (2008) Basics of qualitative research. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  35. Kim SJ, Underberg NM (2011) International conference of design, user experience, and usability. Springer, Berlin, pp 20–28Google Scholar
  36. Kramsch C (1998) Language and culture. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  37. Kumar M (2011) Arsenic removal for ceramic water filters. J Hum Eng 1(1):11–14MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  38. LeCompte MD, Schensul JJ (1999) Designing and conducting ethnographic research, vol 1. Rowman Altamira, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  39. Liu X (2015) Applied ordinal logistic regression using Stata: from single-level to multilevel modeling. Sage Publications, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  40. Lofland J, Lofland LH (2006) Analyzing social settings. Wadsworth Publishing Company, BelmontGoogle Scholar
  41. Martin B, Hanington B (2012) Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions. Rockport Publishers, BeverlyGoogle Scholar
  42. Mattson CA, Wood AE (2014) Nine principles for design for the developing world as derived from the engineering literature. J Mech Des 136(12):121403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mohedas I, Daly SR, Sienko KH (2016) Use of skill acquisition theory to understand novice to expert development in design ethnography. Int J Eng Educ 32(3):1364–1371Google Scholar
  44. Mohedas I, Sabet Sarvestani A, Daly SR, Sienko KH et al (2015) DS 80-1 proceedings of the 20th international conference on engineering design (ICED 15), vol 1: design for life, Milan, Italy, 27–30.07.15Google Scholar
  45. Nellore R, Balachandra R (2001) Factors influencing success in integrated product development (IPD) projects. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 48(2):164–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Prabhala S, Loi D, Ganapathy S (2011) Design, user experience, and usability. Theory, methods, tools and practice. Springer, Berlin, pp 102–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ramachandran D, Kam M, Chiu J, Canny J, Frankel JF (2007) in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (ACM, 2007), pp 1087–1096Google Scholar
  48. Salvador T, Bell G, Anderson K (1999) Design ethnography. Des Manag J (Former Ser) 10(4):35–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sandhu JS, Altankhuyag P, Amarsaikhan D (2007) International conference on human–computer interaction. Springer, Berlin, pp 614–623Google Scholar
  50. Sarvestani AS, Sienko KH (2013) User-based design approach to develop a traditional adult male circumcision device. J Med Device 7(2):020927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sarvestani A, Sienko K (2014) Design ethnography as an engineering tool. Demand ASME Glob Dev Rev 22:2–7Google Scholar
  52. Sarvestani AS, Bufumbo L, Geiger JD, Sienko KH (2012) Traditional male circumcision in Uganda: a qualitative focus group discussion analysis. PLoS One 7(10):e45316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Scott Long J (1997) Advanced quantitative techniques in the social sciences 7Google Scholar
  54. Spinuzzi C (2005) The methodology of participatory design. Tech Commun 52(2):163–174Google Scholar
  55. StataCorp LP (2007) Stata data analysis and statistical software. Special Edition Release, vol 10, p 733Google Scholar
  56. Stewart A (1998) The ethnographer’s method, vol 46. Sage, Thousand OaksCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thacker KS, Barger KM, Mattson CA (2017) Balancing technical and user objectives in the redesign of a Peruvian cookstove. Dev Eng 2:12–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design (http://IDEO.org) (2015)
  59. Valkenburg R, Dorst K (1998) The reflective practice of design teams. Des Stud 19(3):249–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Viswanathan M, Sridharan S (2012) Product development for the BoP: insights on concept and prototype development from university-based student projects in India. J Prod Innov Manag 29(1):52–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Viswanathan M, Yassine A, Clarke J (2011) Sustainable product and market development for subsistance marketplaces: creating educational initiatives in radically different contexts. J Prod Innov Manag 28:558–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Warren CA (1988) Gender issues in field research, vol 9. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  63. Wasson C (2000) Ethnography in the field of design. Hum Organ 59(4):377–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. White G, White A (1986) Potable water for all: the Egyptian experience with rural water supply. Tech. rep., Water InternationalGoogle Scholar
  65. Wignaraja P et al (1990) Women, poverty and resourcesGoogle Scholar
  66. Wood AE, Mattson CA (2016) Design for the developing world: common pitfalls and how to avoid them. J Mech Des 138(3):031101CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

Personalised recommendations