Design Studio in Management Education

Seth Orsborn
School of Management Bucknell University


Seth Orsborn
Assistant Professor of Markets, Innovation, and Design
School of Management
Bucknell University

As industry is beginning to recognize the importance of cross-disciplinary teams, it becomes more relevant for members of the various disciplines to appreciate the value each member brings and for there to be an environment of mutual respect. While many existing design firms already have a well-established culture that promotes the value of integrated team work, many industries are just now experimenting with how to change their corporate culture, historically by hierarchy and discipline. It is challenging enough to change the corporate culture from within besides needing to guide new hires away from the antiquated culture towards the newly integrated company. This is especially challenging if the new hires are educated based upon the same premises as the senior members of the company and therefore readily adopt divisional and hierarchical perspectives as acceptable and the norm.

The fight against hierarchy and disciplinary segregation is even more challenging if incoming management does not understand nor appreciate the value of integrated teamwork. This is especially true in a company that intends to find success through a creative environment. While there are a few graduate-level management programs within the United States that provide a reasonably balanced view of corporate strategy, the alumni of these programs are handicapped by their pre-graduate school education, their prior work experience, and the pervasive culture that supports oligarchical rule within organizations. There were no undergraduate management education programs in the United States that intentionally prepared their students to thrive in an interdisciplinary, creative environment; though a few programs do exist overseas. The Markets, Innovation, and Design program within the School of Management at Bucknell University redefines student expectations for work environment by providing undergraduate management majors with a unique design studio experience. Much of this was conceived through consultation with creative alumni, industrial design faculty at other universities, and in response to a noticeable cultural shift towards prioritizing design.