Shoppers and Tailors: Participative Practices in Small Australian Design Companies
The focus of this paper is the relations between the work practices and technology needs of small Australian design companies and the discourses of Participatory Design. Because these companies use off-the-shelf technology, these relations are shaped not just by factors specific to company size, but also by the geographic and cultural separation between the situation of use and the situation of design. User participation focuses on shopping decisions, and the fitting of purchased technology to the local work situation. While many aspects of job design can be extremely flexible within small companies, participation in the design of computer systems is bounded by the available products and the options for continuing design-in-use that are embedded within them. The paper starts from the recognition that participative practices are important in the design of any job. From this perspective the discourses of Participatory Design that are relevant to small companies are those that support the participative design of work, irrespective of the national or industrial location of the people involved.