Creation dependencies of evolutionary artefact and design process knowledge

Wang, Wenjuan and Duffy, Alexander and Boyle, Iain and Whitfield, Robert (2013) Creation dependencies of evolutionary artefact and design process knowledge. Journal of Engineering Design, 24 (9). pp. 681-710. ISSN 1466-1837 (

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As design progresses, artefact and process knowledge often evolve together. However, there is very limited knowledge on the true nature of the dependencies between these two elements of knowledge. This paper presents the first attempt to clearly define 'creation' dependencies, which cause a change in design knowledge. Three data analyses were used to identify the dependencies: two were in-depth protocol analyses of a single student product design project and a senior ship designer’s daily work, and a third was a quantitative questionnaire analysis involving seven experienced complex system designers from industry. The analyses revealed a set of 52 previously unknown creation dependencies between artefact and design process knowledge with commonality found in only 5, with additional dependencies being identified that were specific to the design being studied. Different frequencies of dependency occurrence and particular dependency loops were identified. In addition, the importance and role of domain knowledge were explicitly revealed. The described research highlights the need for further work to provide a more comprehensive definition of the nature of evolutionary artefact and design process knowledge dependencies. Identification of these dependencies offers a significant opportunity to develop tools and techniques with an enhanced ability to support 'what–if' analyses during design.