Exploring the Role of Linguistic Abstraction in Idea-Generation Sessions

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For many years, both academia and industry have been interested in increasing the efficiency of idea- generation meetings. Alex Osborne's (1953) rules for brainstorming are an early attempt to do so, and have extensively been used in engineering design, however their effectiveness has been questioned with recent research, and a need for fundamental research to establish which practices are useful arises. This study is an attempt in investigating linguistic abstraction in idea-generation meetings, in order to establish whether any best practices can be distilled from the language used. Engineering design group meetings were recorded and transcribed, and was analysed using a coding framework which was developed for analysing linguistic categories as well as the ideas that were generated during those meetings. More particularly, the study investigates the average abstractness/concreteness of speech throughout the duration of the meetings, as well as the switching between abstract and concrete language and vice versa while comparing idea-related discourse and non-idea related discourse switching. The coding framework proposed is considered robust enough to carry out further work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019
Event22nd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2019 - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 5 Aug 20198 Aug 2019


  • creativity
  • design practice
  • design engineering


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