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The Engineering Design CK Theory: Contributions and Limits

[+] Author Affiliations
Denis Choulier

University of Technology of Belfort Montbéliard, Belfort, France

Eric Coatanéa

Aalto University, Espoo, Finland

Joëlle Forest

Univeristy of Lyon - INSA de Lyon, Villeurbanne, France

Paper No. DETC2010-28523, pp. 83-92; 10 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 22nd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Special Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4413-7 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


The CK theory of design created by Hatchuel and Weil has raised interest and controversies both in the academic and practitioners communities. After presenting the CK theory scope and focus, and the contributions claimed by the creators of the theory, we compare it to concepts and models more commonly used in traditional design approaches. It can be noticed that important concepts are ignored by the CK theory even if some of them are integrated in the research programs of Hatchuel, Weil and Le Masson. This initial analysis demonstrates that even in its scope, the CK theory appears incomplete to engineering design and does not consider important dimensions for the validity of the research program claimed. Then, we analyze from a critical viewpoint the foundations and hypotheses of the CK theory. Some propositions for improvement are set. Nevertheless, both the ability of CK theory to effectively assist and direct a creative process and, moreover, to organize the complete design and innovation processes are questioned. Finally, we conclude about the ambitious program and results claim by the authors of the CK theory.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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