At the Social Entrepreneurship Nordic Research Conference in Oslo today, we are presenting the following paper, in which we argue for how ‘design thiking’ can fill some important gaps in social entrepreneurship theory:

Visions for solving problems locally and globally

Brita Fladvad Nielsen and Jonas Asheim
Department of Product Design
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

How will designers solve future societal challenges? What is in a designer’s toolbox that will help them achieve social impact?

This chapter highlights how design thinking corresponds with social entrepreneurial thinking. Social value is at the core, while the value of financial profit varies. Common still, is that designers put the human at the center of their work. When asked, Norwegian designers believe that the imperative of good design is to improve society or an individual’s life in one way or the other.

Six designers have been interviewed. The outcome allows us to draw a picture of what future problems may look like and how designers can help solve them. The answers also show how the human being can be the inspiration, the building block, and the target group for a business model.

Key words:
Design, social entrepreneurship, society


About Brita Fladvad Nielsen

I'm a Postdoctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My focus is on Smart Energy Communities in urban settings as well as design of energy-devices for emergency settings and design for humanitarian markets, especially for refugee camps in rural areas of Africa. I blog about my research approach Design Thinking on and about humanitarian design at . I am also a mother of a child who is deaf, and I blog about her language development on
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