Motivation for the Collaborative Design SIG:

World leading partnerships have been built through the development of collaborative design practices. Collaborative design is seen by many as an ideal mechanism for exchanging knowledge. When operating effectively, these partnerships have had a significant beneficial impact on productivity and the economy. Research to date suggests that collaborative design can raise strategic, operational, commercial, and cultural challenges and the research also indicates eight broad reasons for collaborative failures. A detailed consideration of the mechanisms for successfully supporting the collaborative design process through a fundamental understanding of the conceptual elements of collaborative design (that require management and nurturing) is lacking.

The structure of a collaborative design partnership is not static in its nature. It evolves with the natural variation in the availability of the designers within the network and the technology that the designers use. It also evolves as a result of the strategic, operational, commercial and cultural factors mentioned above. This evolutionary nature presents challenges with respect to: the development of collaborative relationships to promote growth both individually and collaboratively; the management and sharing of intellectual property and the decision making process related to the management of the collaborative network.

Support for the fundamental aspects of collaboration is required for collaboration between geographically distributed and culturally different organisations to be effective. For example, information exchange is confounded by the confidential or restricted nature of the information as well as by other barriers to collaboration such as trust. Many existing software solutions for supporting collaboration are in reality no more than a means of exchanging information. For these solutions to be truly effective a characterisation and framework for collaborative design is required in order that appropriate architectures can be developed to meet the specific requirements of differing collaborative design situations.

Original goals:

The SIG was originally created to develop a collaborative design research agenda through considering the following questions:

  • Can collaborative design be characterised?
  • Identify and review global research activity in collaborative design, identifying current strengths, gaps and future priorities
  • What management and technical principles can be used to facilitate successful collaborative design?
  • What strategic, operational, commercial and cultural factors prevent successful collaborative design and how can these factors be mitigated against?
  • Can a collaborative design framework be developed to support the specific requirements of differing collaborative situations?
  • What decision support should be provided to facilitate decisions relating to the evolution of collaborative design partnerships?
  • What characteristics of collaborative design should be used as a basis for the development of software solutions for the support of distributed collaborative design?
  • What are the key challenges and research priorities based on the current and future economic, cultural and social environment?


  • Dr Ian Robert Whitfield, University of Strathclyde, UK.
  • Dr Avril Thompson, University of Strathclyde, UK.
  • Prof. Jean-François Boujut, Grenoble Institute of Technology, France; 
  • Prof. Marie-Anne le Dain, Grenoble Institute of Technology, France;
  • Prof. Paul Chamberlain, Sheffield Hallam University, UK.

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