Service design and participatory design: time to join forces?

Joanna Saad-Sulonen, Amalia de Götzen, Nicola Morelli, Luca Simeone

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


We address the theme of “participation(s) otherwise” by bringing forward what we see as an opportunity to combine existing participatory and service design approaches to participation in the way they weave connections between design, IT, digitalization and democracy, focusing on the context of the public sector. This is a context where participatory design, despite interest and projects, has not been widely adopted. However, service design, the ‘new kid on the block’, is establishing itself by very pragmatically addressing the emerging need for people-centered design approaches in organizations, including in the public sector. Service design might at first be easily dismissed by participatory design because of what may seem a superficial take on people-centeredness and its links to business-centered interest in ‘design’. With this exploratory paper, we emphasize what both disciplines can learn from one another and propose that participatory design and service design join forces in expanding notions of participation and addressing the challenges of digitalization in the public sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPDC '20: Proceedings of the 16th Participatory Design Conference 2020 - Participation(s) Otherwise
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-7606-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-7606-8
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventParticipatory Design Conference 2020: Participation(s) otherwise - Manizales, Colombia and Online, Manizales, Colombia
Duration: 15 Jun 202019 Jun 2020


ConferenceParticipatory Design Conference 2020
LocationManizales, Colombia and Online
Internet address


  • Services
  • public sector
  • service design
  • participation
  • Participatory design
  • PDC proceedings


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