Home > Vol. 28, No. 2

The Evaluation Method for the Policy of Public Design Based on Civic Engagement
  • Yangsook Lee : Department of Design, International Design School for Advanced Design, Hongik University, Seoul, Korea
  • Ken Nah : Department of Design Management, International Design School for Advanced Design, Hongik University, Seoul, Korea.

Background Public design started with the real lives of citizens. However, many public design policies in Korea have been evaluated based on the performance of public institutions and design results only. Evaluating design policies is understood to make innovation and enhance people's design capabilities, especially in Europe. Thesedays, design is considered a means of problem solving, so it requires taking into account design capabilities of the public beyond the design outcomes provided by the governments and designers in public design.

Methods The present situation of public design policies in Korea and abroad are examined to consider the direction of the evaluation. Then, the existing evaluation systems of public design policies are analyzed. Next, the capability approach is applied as a base for establishing the evaluation criteria.

Results Based on the capability approach as a conceptual framework to measure people's freedom and capabilities, the evaluation criteria to facilitate citizens' design activities are established.

Conclusion The paper suggests the primary elements for the development of the evaluation framework of public design policies, focusing on civic engagement.

Public Design Policy, Design Policy Evaluation, Evaluation System, Capability Approach, Civic Engagement, Civic Participation.
pISSN: 1226-8046
eISSN: 2288-2987
Publisher: Korean Society of Design Science
Received: 30 Mar, 2015
Revised: 07 Apr, 2015
Accepted: 16 Apr, 2015
Printed: May, 2015
Volume: 28 Issue: 2
Page: 53 ~ 61
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15187/adr.2015.
Corresponding Author: Ken Nah (knahidas@gmail.com)
PDF Download:

Citation : Lee, Y., & Nah, K. (2015). The Evaluation Method for the Policy of Public Design Based on Civic Engagement. Archives of Design Research, 28 (2), 53-61.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits unrestricted educational and non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

In recent years, varied public design policies have been implemented across the country. The concept of public design, which emerged in the early 2000s, has received much attention within and outside the design discipline. Actual projects and policies have arisen as critical urban strategies and a number of discourses and related studies have been also generated. However, despite many policies, relatively less research on evaluation methodology has been carried out. Besides, the existing studies mostly focus on the utility of design results. Public design started from the movement that focuses more on people's real lives. Given these circumstances, the paper is intended to provide a fundamental research to build up the Evaluation Framework of Public Design Policies concentrated on civic engagement. The present study suggests a new approach to the concept that people should be able to make their lives more valuable: it is described as 'design capability' in this paper. This builds on Capability Approach, which is a normative framework advanced by Amartya Sen, an economist who developed human development theory.

2. Evaluation of Public Design Policies
2. 1. Current situation of Public Design Policies

Public Design policies in Korea have been operated by government ministries and local governments such as Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism(MCST), and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport(MLIT) with different policy goals. In many cases, they are regarded as a means of urban strategies to enhance urban competitiveness. However, some arguments have been made that public design projects and policies were not much different from established ones in urban design or environmental design field(Kim, K.S. et al., 2009). The zeal for public design is cooling down(Lee et al., 2014a), but it is taking new turn. Some field studies argue that roles of residents should be more emphasized as the main agents of public design(Oh, 2013). Furthermore, public service design is being a growing trend to solve citizens' difficulties and meet their desires for better life qualities. Therefore, some public institutions such as the Seoul Design Foundation which has implemented different design projects for the citizens are doing service design projects.

2. 2. Direction of Public Design Policies and its evaluation

Design policies are generally evaluated to get the results as the management information and the performance of the operating institution, along with other policies. Policy evaluation is defined as "the process of determining quality, goal attainment, program effectiveness, impacts, and costs of a policy". The primary object of policy evaluation is to have detailed knowledge of policy effects and results for the society(Theodoulou and Kofinis, 2004). According to the Design in European Policy(DeEP), European countries are interested in developing design in innovation policies. They recognize that the lack of evaluation can lead to making effective and innovative design policies difficult. Both policy making and policy evaluation have received the least attention in design discipline these days. They think that design enables people centered innovation. Therefore, design innovation can be understood through evaluating design policies. Today, European Union considers evaluation of design policies as one of their main issues, and tries to create tools to evaluate design policies(DeEP, 2013).

Existing studies on evaluation of public design policies are few and mostly focus on performance management of executive organizations or public design itself(Lee et al., 2014). Evaluation of public design policies is often considered as evaluation of public design programs in Korea. In The Evaluation Index of Public Design Programs from Cultural Perspective(the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 2011), the Ministry tried to develop the evaluation index that fits public design as cultural characteristics, which is different from the indices developed by the other ministries and institutions. In those days, a lot of public design programs were developed by various public institutions. Even though the goals of the institutions were all different, the public design programs were criticized that the characteristics were similar and overlap with each other.(Kim, K.S. et al., 2009; Kim, J.K., 2013) Therefore, the issues of wasting budget and integrated management were brought up. For these reasons, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism(MCST) defined public design from cultural perspectives and established the evaluation index for its programs(Table 1, 2).

Table 1
The objective of the evaluation index of the public design programs

Classification Contents
Strategic goal To spread sustainable culture of public design which can be enjoyed by citizens
Performance goal Performance goal Measurement items of the evaluation index
1. Activation of regional economy carried by culture Leadership
2. Securement of a socio-cultural identity Identity
3. Construction of comfortable space for citizens Publicness
4. Reinforcement of mutual communication among community members, harmony between sustainable natural environment and artifacts
5. Establishment of a supporting system to build ultimate potentials of local competitiveness Rationality, Faithfulness

Table 2
The final evaluation index of the public design programs from cultural perspective

Period classification Evaluation items Evaluation
Plan evaluation Identity (20%) Utilization of local conditions(10%)
Utilization of local history and cultural assets(10%)
Publicness (30%) Plan of cooperation with local residents(10%)
Realization of user-centered design(10%)
Eco-friendly design(10%)
Leadership (20%) Realization of creativity(10%)
Level of ripple effects(10%)
Rationality (20%) Properness of a program plan(8%)
Properness of a management system(6%)
Fairness of a program process(6%)
Faithfulness (10%) Propriety of budgeting(5%)
Level of compliance with basic guidance(5%)
Execution evaluation Mutual communication with local residents(20%)
Fairness of a program process(25%)
Propriety of budgeting (25%)
Level of compliance with basic guidance(30%)
Performance evaluation Expert evaluation (50%) Goal achievement(15%)
Evaluation of citizen satisfaction (50%) *in the process of developing the scales

The index is based on the features of the public design programs as a kind of a cultural policies. The features are as follows;

First, the programs are to revive the local historicity and cultural identity. Second, local residents play a leading role to suggest a model for urban regeneration. Third, making cultural space and providing and managing cultural contents are both emphasized. Fourth, they contribute to solve socio-economic problems based on the cultural-artistic approach.

The MCST explains that their programs are cultural policies to boost the local community through cooperation with local governments, residents and experts in the report. Although the features of the index stress local residents and local cultures, there is a small part of the index reflecting citizens' participation. The ministry tried to make the programs focus on citizens through development of the index, but does not mean that citizens should be the main subject for practice. In the index, only 10 percent of Plan evaluation, and 20 percent of Execution evaluation reflect citizens' participation. Only in Performance evaluation, citizens' satisfaction in terms of participation occupies half of the evaluation. Besides, participation is staying in a passive policy frame made by the implementing agency. It seems that the Ministry still focuses on public design policies as 'design for people' rather than 'design by people'.

Shin, Kim and Koo(2010) also researched the evaluation framework of public design policies, which regards public design as urban design. In other words, public design is defined as design of the public areas in cities. It is shared by citizens, and focuses on publicness and sustainability. They mentioned that urban design is to establish organic design systems for the process of making urban space. The evaluation system is developed using BSC(Balance Scorecard) that is a method of integrated performance management and policy evaluation. It facilitates policy making, drawing strategic subjects and setting a policy evaluation system. The evaluation factors through ANP(Analytic Network Process) importance analysis are as follows(Table 3).

Table 3
The evaluation factors of public design policies

Policy target Importance Rating Policy evaluation factors Importance Rating by sections
Policy goal/Plan section 2 Policy coherence 3
Integrated plan 1
Locality 2
Organizational system/Management section 3 Network 2
Participation 1
Supporting system 3
Space/Environment section 1 Publicness/Dailiness 4
Place/Identity 1
Culture/Creativity 2
Environment friendly 3
Evaluation and Management/Promotion section 4 Economics/Sociality 3
Education/Promotion 1
Management/Evaluation system 2

As shown in the table, the most important policy target is 'Space/Environment' section. It may results from the idea that is public design equates to urban design. The evaluation system above includes the participation factor, but it is restricted to 'Organizational system/Management' section. It is also a sort of faithful evaluation system, which helps the institution carry out the policy effectively, rather than considering citizens' roles in public design. Eventually, the evaluation systems come from the goal of public design policy and the question of what public design is.

In South Korea, the policies of public design have been given a considerable attention within or outside design discipline. The trend of overseas design in public area could be explained as innovation of governance and communication, design to provide citizens with public service(Lee et al., 2014). In addition, public administrations are more and more interested in user-centric process and tools, and consider citizens as 'active agent of change'(DeEP, 2013). Above all, the primary goal of public design is to realize public values embedded in citizens' lives. Therefore, policy evaluation emphasizing civic participation is necessary. Thus, it is necessary to explore what participation means. In accordance with the Design Policy Issue no.1(DeEP, 2013), participation is one of the most interesting practices to realize and renew democracy. The US president Barack Obama(2013) argues that implementing agencies should provide people with more opportunities to participate in policy making and let them demonstrate their abilities. It shows that participation, a key practice for democracy, can make people have choices and display their different abilities in policy making process. The process could give them benefits for better life and develop their abilities to make the surrounding environment by themselves. This means that public design policies place citizens at the center of making a better society and public culture. Therefore, improving their design capabilities can be the ultimate goal of public design policies.

3. Concept and features of Capability Approach

Amartya Sen has advocated 'human development', which means that development is not just economic growth, and it should focus people-centered development for education, health, environment and so on. The development is to extend the process of people's free choices, which can nurture their capabilities. The capability approach developed by Martha Nussbaum and him is a conceptual framework to evaluate the development practice that consists of a basic framework evaluating inequality based on opportunities that add value to people’s lives (Robeyns, 2006). It bases on two vital concepts, functioning, and capability. The capability is a person's aptitude to achieve valuable 'doings and beings'. Functioning signifies a person's state, advocating valuable activities to make a living. Capability, as a notion, reflects the comprehensive abilities of a person (Sen, 1993). The features of the capability approach enable application of civic participation in the design of the environment for well-being of all (Nussbaum, 2000; Robeyns, 2005; Sen, 1999). First, capability considers the means to an end, instead of utility of the end. Subsequently, the approach needs much information to explore diverse lives that citizens can live, termed as the 'capability set'. Third, the approach does not expect that citizens choose to use their capabilities always. It means that they also have the right to choose whether not to, or to participate (Dong, 2008). Precisely, the approach enables people to get more liberty, allowing them to make their environment, where they want to live, through democratic decision-making, and it is referred to as 'design capability'. There is one case that evaluated design based on the capability approach. Dong founded the Design Capability Report (DCR), which is an evaluation tool for policies in terms of participatory design (Dong, 2013). It could be a new departure in the evaluation of design-related policies by use of the capability approach.

4. Evaluation criteria of Public Design Policies

To develop an evaluation criterion of public design policies based on the capability approach, first, there should be examination of the existing evaluation systems. The systems’ main consideration is their efficiency and effectiveness of design outcomes as a result of the public design policies. Thus, the evaluation factors are different from the evaluation aimed at developing citizens' design capabilities. On the other hand, the major preceding research on DCR bases on the capability set as the evaluation criteria. The capability set composes six elements, namely, information, knowledge, abstraction, evaluation, participation, and authority. The elements are independent, though interconnected with each other for design works. In the case of public-design policies, their execution bases on the multi-stratified public area, including rules and legal framework, public organizations, various individuals and others. Therefore, the dimensions of the design capabilities need classification. Jackson divides capabilities into structural, social, and individual capacities, depending on social relations (Jackson, 2005). Considering the dimensions, the evaluation criteria of public design policies proposal is as follows (Table 4).

Table 4
The evaluation framework of public design policies based on civic engagement by using the capability approach

Evaluation category Evaluation items
① Personal capabilities Information of systems and policies
Design knowledge
Design evaluation
② Social capabilities Conceptualization and practice
Background knowledge of design culture and the humanities
Communication of others
③ Structural capabilities Design authority
Design participation
Management of design output

To evaluate the design capabilities of public design policies, information regarding the operating system and the policies, knowledge of design, and its evaluation belong to personal capabilities. Design conceptualization and practice, knowledge as the basis of design work, interacting with others are possible in social relationships under variant social dimensions. The authority and participation to enact the design activities and managing the outcomes could be structural issues.

5. Conclusion

The study has attempted making a cornerstone develop the evaluation framework of public design policies focused on civic participation, which could help the reinforcement of citizens' design capabilities. For this reason, the current situation and the established evaluation systems of public design policies undergo critical analysis. Afterwards, the primary evaluation criteria and are discovered through the capability approach, a normative framework that could look into people's real opportunities to make their surroundings more valuable and expand their liberties. This criterion proposes the conditions to enable design activities from personal, social, and structural perspectives. The capabilities include granting opportunities to participate and engage design activities, the freedom to choose participation decision, and the abilities to decide the environment that citizens want and to fulfill it properly. There are limitations worth considering in further researches.

For surety, this study begins with limited data because it is an initial step research suggesting a new angle on the evaluation of public design, and thus it is more of a primary research to seek essentials, detailed factors and to systematize the evaluation system. At the very least, the paper should be pursued to the point where it links up with future work on the evaluation framework of public design policies for design capabilities by engagement and participation.


This work is part of Lee's doctoral Dissertation.

  1. 1 . Dong, A. (2008). The Policy of Design: A Capabilities Approach. Design Issues, 24 (4), 82-83.
  2. 2 . Dong, A. (2013). The Capability Approach as a Framework for the Assessment of Policies toward Civic Engagement in Design. Design Issues, 34 (3), 326-329.
  3. 3 . Jackson, W. A. (2005). Capabilities, Culture and Social Structure. Review of Social Economy, 63 (1), 101-124. [https://doi.org/10.1080/00346760500048048]
  4. 4 . Kang, H. J. et al. (2011). 문화적 관점의 공공디자인사업 평가지표 보고서 [The Evaluation Index of Public Design Programs from Cultural Perspective]. Seoul: The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism(MCST) and Korea Craft and Design Foundation(KCDF).
  5. 5 . Kim, J. K. (2013). 한국의 디자인 [Design of Korea]. Seoul: Ahn Graphics.
  6. 6 . Kim, K. S. et al.(2009). 도시 공공디자인 도입 활성화를 위한 참여주체의 역할관계 설정에 관한 연구 [A Study on the Participants' View and Roles on the Urban Public Design in Korea]. Cheongju: Cunngbuk Research Institute.
  7. 7 . Lee, Y. S. et al.(2014a). 공공디자인 4.0: 공공디자인의 확장과 진화[A Study on Public Design 4.0: Expansion and Evolution of Public Design]. Journal of the Korean Society of Design Culture, 20 (2), 437-446.
  8. 8 . Lee, Y. S. et al. (2014b). 공공디자인 정책 현황 분석 및 평가의 방향성 연구 [A Study on Analysis of the Current Situation of Public Design Policies and its Evaluation Direction]. Archives of design research, 27 (3), 217-233.
  9. 9 . Lee, Y. S. (2015). 시민 참여 기반의 공공디자인 정책 평가체계 개발 연구 - 디자인 역량 측정을 중심으로 [A Study on the Development of an Evaluation System of the Public Design Policies based on Civic Engagement - Focused on the Assessment of Design Capabilities]. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Hongik University, Seoul, Korea.
  10. 10 . Maffei, S. et al. (2013). Design Policy Issues No.1. Milano: Design in European Policy (DeEP).
  11. 11 . Nussbaum, M. C. (2000). Women and human development: The capabilities approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511841286]
  12. 12 . Obama, B. (2013, 8). Transparency and Open Government [Official Website]. Retrieved from 2014, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment.
  13. 13 . Oh, C. S. (2013). 공공디자인에서 타자 관계에 있는 '시민' ['Citizens' as Others in Public Design]. Archives of design research, 26 (1), 465-481.
  14. 14 . Robeyns, I. (2005). The capability approach: a theoretical survey. Journal of Human Development, 6 (1), 93-117. [https://doi.org/10.1080/146498805200034266]
  15. 15 . Robeyns, I. (2006). The capability approach in practice. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 14 (3), 351-376. [https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9760.2006.00263.x]
  16. 16 . Sen, A. K. (1993). The Quality of Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  17. 17 . Sen, A. K. (1999). Development as freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  18. 18 . Shin, Y. C. et al.(2010). 도시디자인으로서 공공디자인 정책평가체계 개발에 관한 연구 [Development of Evaluation System for Public Design Policy as Urban Design - Focused on Evaluation for the Public Design Policy of Seoul]. Urban Design Institute of Korea, 11 (4), 5-22.
  19. 19 . Theodoulou, S. Z., & Kofinis, C. (2004). The art of the game: Understanding American public policy making. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.