ASU Center for Organization Research and Design

New Design Challenges to Widely Implement "Sustainable Product-Service Systems"

by Carlo Vezzoli; Fabrizio Ceschin; Jan Carel Diehl; Cindy Kohtala

Jun 15, 2015

Sustainable Product–Service Systems (S.PSS) carry great potential to deliver social well-being and economic prosperity while operating within the limits of our planet. They can however be complex to design, test, implement and bring to the mainstream. To increase our understanding of the potential benefits, drivers and barriers in S.PSS design, the research community has been inspired to collect and analyse an extensive number of cases in diverse sectors and to develop and test several design methods and tools. This Special Volume on "New Design Challenges to Widely Implement 'Sustainable Product–Service Systems'" presents results of key studies in the following areas: user satisfaction and acceptance of S.PSS solutions, how industrial partnerships and stakeholder interactions can be designed for environmental and socio-ethical benefits, how knowledge of socio-technical change and transition management feeds S.PSS design processes, and the role of policy instruments to foster their implementation and scale-up. This Introduction reviews the current state of research and summarises the articles presented. The articles demonstrate increasing confidence in integrating approaches and theoretical frameworks from other arenas. These approaches include sociological practice theory, to shed new light on consumer practices in S.PSS configurations, and strategic niche management, to foster a suitable design and experimentation milieu. Experimentation, iteration and cyclical design processes were also seen by many authors as crucial to implementing and stabilising S.PSS solutions, but also their continuous sustainability evaluation. Several articles highlight the importance of local authorities, in developing S.PSS-enabling policies as well as supporting novel networks of stakeholders in the co-production of value. Finally this Introduction highlights key issues for a design research agenda, including but not limited to the development of new knowledge to support S.PSS designers (such as S.PSS design in low and middle-income contexts) and the role of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in the diffusion of knowledge and know-how to companies. Together, the papers in this special volume provide insight into the promise of the S.PSS concept for understanding, advancing and accelerating sustainability.

New Design Challenges to Widely Implement "Sustainable Product-Service Systems"