Where next for design research? Understanding research impact and theory building

Philip Cash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Research impact and theory development are major challenges facing design research. However, the nature of these challenges and how they should be addressed is a controversial question. Here, this question is addressed via a systematic analysis of research published in Design Studies, which delivers three contributions: demonstrating the explanatory and predictive power of theory development for research impact; showing that theory development has broken down in design research; offering a theoretical ‘landscape’ of design research, which is used to provide an evidence-based agenda for future theory development. It is proposed that these contributions resolve much of the controversy surrounding theory development and its value, and point the way forward for a theory development revolution in design research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-141
Number of pages29
JournalDesign Studies
Early online date26 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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