Complex organizations, an exploration between design practices and management

New perspectives to Systemic Design application in Social Enterprise




Organisational change has become increasingly an influential process in enterprise evolution because as a fundamental step in enabling the corporate to adapt and follow the changes occurring in its environment. All types of enterprises are involved in these dynamics. However, this paper will focus on organisational change for social enterprises (SE). In SE, organisational issues are complex, and they entail satisfying both economic and social mission needs while avoiding isomorphism with for-profit companies. On these considerations, this article aims to provide an insight into the role that design can play in processes that facilitate organisational change. Moreover, the paper investigates three design processes that deal with organisational issues and evaluate which one is the most suitable for SE organisational issue. The article synthesises and discusses literature from three areas of reference: design in the organisational field, organisational evolution of SEs, and organisations as complex systems. The aim of this literature review is to understand how design can support the development path of SE in its organisational change. Specifically for the SE category, it emerges how Systemic Design could play a more significant role in designing and implementing organisational development that can guarantee resilience and social sustainability valorising the specific context where they are based.

Author Biography

Silvia Barbero, Politecnico di Torino

Silvia Barbero, PhD, is Associate Professor at Politecnico di Torino (Department of Architecture and Design). She is teaching “Product Environmental Requirements” at the Design and Visual Communication degree, “Open Systems” at the Systemic Design Master degree and "Systemic Design for territorial development at the Management Production and Design PhD programme. She is deputy coordinator of the design courses at Politecnico di Torino and also responsible for the stage & job. She is author of several books and scientific articles, her full list of pubblications is available at the following link: