Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 158–171 | Cite as

Influences on Solution Search Processes in Design Organisations

  • J. A. Busby
  • P. A. Lloyd
Original Article


A study was conducted of what influenced solution search activity in three design organisations. The influences were analysed in terms of how they affected search, whether their effect tended to be conservative or innovative, and the directness of the evidence they provided. Overall, the environment was found to provide more innovative influences than conservative ones. Innovative influences were mostly connected with the triggering of search activity, while conservative influences were mostly linked with restricting the search space of potential solutions. Also, search candidates were often evaluated in terms of their associations rather than their intrinsic merits, and ultimately this makes human judgment an essential component of search and evaluation activity. Finally, the environment provides many ‘seeds’ for effects like design fixation and functional fixedness but also provides strong incentives to positively avoid these effects.

Key words:Closure – Fixation – Organisation – Search 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Busby
    • 1
  • P. A. Lloyd
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Beds, UKGB
  2. 2.Department of Industrial Design Engineering, Technical University of Delft, Delft, The NetherlandsNL

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