ISSN: 2165-0349 (Print) 2165-0357 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tdci20 The concept of design-led innovation is gaining importance in both the design studies and innovation research areas by drawing attention to design and its strategic value for innovation. This paper offers a critical review of academic articles, books, and national innovation assessment instruments on the conceptualizations and claimed outcomes of design-led innovation. The review identified three conceptualizations: outcome-, process-, and dominant logic-oriented conceptualizations, which differ in the manner by which design influences innovation outcomes. Claimed innovation outcomes include new to market products and services, competitive advantage, strategic change, and intellectual property. Empirical studies show a direct link between the qualities of the designed artifact on market-oriented innovation metrics. National innovation instruments likewise point to design as positively influencing multi-factor productivity. However, the review did not uncover any article presenting data to refute a null hypothesis relating to the positive influence of design on innovation, and empirical studies linking the intensity of design-led processes or degree of design-led capabilities to innovation performance remain inconclusive. This lack of evidence suggests that the concept of design-led innovation may be, at least at the moment, more a perspective rather than a set of evidence-based practices.
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