This thesis is about designed things acting in the context of corporate responsibility (CR). It explores how designed things are mobilised by corporations to address CR issues. This research project was conducted by a designer through an interdisciplinary research project bringing together design, business and the social sciences.
Previous research has explored design in the space of CR. This work predominantly focused on the potential of design to make CR more effective. My project has a different focus. It does not advocate for design in the space of CR but, rather, is interested in how designed things participate in CR activities; it examines the different roles performed by designed things on behalf of the corporation.
The theoretical lens through which questions were framed and data interpreted in this project is Actor-Network Theory (ANT). This interpretive lens allows designed things to be recognised as actors with agency and effects. ANT concepts help to unpack how designed things shape CR activities, and how they are used to address issues of public concern. Equally, designed things operating in this space are shaped by corporate ends. They might be mobilised to smooth relations between the corporation and other actors or to mitigate risk for the corporation. This is complex territory and needs to be considered when looking at designed things acting in this space.
CR reports from Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL), an internationally operating mail and logistics company, were used as data material. Qualitative data analysis was performed on this material using a combination of discourse analysis and visual methods. Out of this process understandings of how designed things are mobilised in the context of CR emerged. The data also revealed the corporate ends that drive CR.