Sven Schneider

Integrative Organization: Designing a structure for public stewardship in an association

This thesis explores how we might move beyond organizational decision-making constrained by a boundary around the firm. It looks into the specific organizational context of the Swiss Design Association (SDA) and develops a structure to support decision-making that involves the organization’s environment.

1. Situation and required change

Currently, decision-making in organizations is usually bound to the people that are part of it. The people organizations affect through their business practice are mostly excluded.


But according to the literature, social and environmental challenges require new cultures of decision-making. Organizational models are needed that compel improved connections among organizations and society. Hereby, value cannot be generated only in an organizations economic self-interest. It must include the interest of the people organizations serve and society at large.


In the context of the SDA, primary research surfaced three things that need to be changed to make the integration of interests from the public work.

2. Intervention

The intervention draws on literature on how to make collaborative governance work and attempts to resolve the three things that need to be changed at the SDA to make public stewardship work in this context.


The intervention suggests to extend the existing structure of the SDA with two complementary integration modes:

  • Issue-sourcing is the mode for considering public interests at the SDA. It collects existing knowledge members have through their design practice about civilians’ concerns in a digital library and curates them to derive relevant themes.
  • Perspective-making is the mode for making sense of themes publicly. It is an open forum for event series, focus groups, and other participatory formats where the SDA and its environment encounter each other to develop perspectives that shape the SDA.

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