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An Ethical Roadmap for Engineering Participatory Design and Sociotechnical Participation: A Manufacturing Case Study

[+] Author Affiliations
Victoria Townsend, Pierre Boulos, Jill Urbanic

University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada

Paper No. IMECE2014-38492, pp. V014T08A032; 8 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 14: Emerging Technologies; Engineering Management, Safety, Ethics, Society, and Education; Materials: Genetics to Structures
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, November 14–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4963-7
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Participatory design (PD) is a sociotechnical approach grounded in mutual learning between various stakeholders in a design process. The PD literature emphasizes that authentic participation requires a critical ethical foundation, which, in turn, requires designers to be aware of this ethical foundation and bring it to bear on the design process. Since this is an emerging field in engineering, and since the ethical foundation is critical, it is important for engineers to seek clarity around the ethical considerations for utilizing PD and other sociotechnical methods involving participation. The purpose of the research presented here is to contribute to this clarity, in the context of manufacturing systems design, with the following question: what are the ethical considerations involved in participatory design, in engineering research and practice? To answer this, a case study research methodology is positioned as a nexus between research and practice. A roadmap of ethical considerations relating PD and manufacturing is developed by triangulating between internationally accepted research ethics principles, a professional engineering code of ethics, and an industrial case study with eight participants engaged in PD. This ethical roadmap is useful to engineering researchers and practitioners when using PD and sociotechnical approaches where participation is involved, to encourage a high standard of ethical practice and supporting theory.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Manufacturing , Design



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