This conference paper was presented at the 2017 Design Management Academy Conference 2017, Hong Kong.
Abstract: Design and social innovation is a developing field of study. The current lack of critical analysis of initiatives and the dominance of insights and methods from European cases in academic literature are not sufficient to construct an image that could be considered as comprehensive. This paper aims to address both issues by introducing Activity Theory as an analytical framework, as its ability to examine phenomena in their native context through multiple perspectives is considered to be well-suited to study design and social innovation initiatives. The analysis of data obtained during a field study investigating three social initiatives in Bangkok contributed to understanding how they work and why they exist, in addition to highlighting the influence of the Thai social and cultural context on the role of design in the social innovation process.