Is design one of the ways to avoid “Dutch Disease” in Latin America?
In a special report about Latin America, due to a lot of the countries celebrating 200 years of independence [the so beloved BICENTENARIO] “The Economist” dedicates a whole issue to articles that refer to issues regarding political and economical background. Even though, as we’ve stated in previous posts, “you can’t put all Latin American Countries” in a bag, as Hans Rosling would point out; there are some issues that can be considered a general trend. Latin America is now enjoying good prices on their commodities. Could we suffer the “Dutch Disease” ? For some, the Dutch Disease, can be a well-known term. Yet it is not mentioned or taught in an ordinary design school. The ‘Dutch Disease, ‘a term coined by this newspaper in 1977 to describe the impact of a North Sea gas bonanza on the economy of the Netherlands. This malady involves commodity exports driving up the value of the currency, making other part of the economy less competitive, leading to current-account deficit and even greater dependence on commodities. This matters because all the more because mining and hydrocarbons are capital-intensive businesses, generating relatively few jobs’ [The Economist, “It’s only Natural”, 2010] The article indicates that commodities are not enough to make flourishing economies sustainable.
SERVICE DESIGN: THE NEXT BIG THING FOR LATIN AMERICA
Even though the article puts upfront some policies taken by some countries like Chile [Fundación Chile & Corfo] and Brazil which are bringing some manufacturing an other innovations in the goods exportation in order to diversify the use of the commodities; there is still a fear to this kind of scenario: commodities being a “curse”. They pose the question: ‘How do you go from copper to computers?“. Is that the question we should ask? How to get to be an industrialized country? Maybe the model that we [Latin Americans] should follow is that of being “Service leaders”. And not just in delivering the service of “Call Centers”, as the India Model shows [“The World is Flat”, (2005) Thomas L.Friedman]; but delivering other kind of service models that can fulfill the region’s needs [who knows better than natives about their own culture?], that meaning private and public services; and the Northern Hemisphere’s needs at better rates.
Service Design can be the next big thing for Latin America. IDEO and Adaptive Path are two Design Consultancies, based on Interaction research and design IxD[out of the computer], in the US that provide this offering of Service Design Experience. Nonetheless, the pioneers in this kind of offering are the British, as the Guardian shows in this article: “SERVICE DESIGN”. The article highlights the idea of Design resolving Services for tackling problems under a Systemic View for: the Business Industry, Public Sector [Blair & Gordon Brown] & Social Innovation, within others. All these have a collaborative approach. In Chile, there are few companies that fulfill these kind of Design thoroughly. In a recent past, I collaborated in projects with small design consultancies as Procorp and Amable, which are shifting into a culture of Designing Experiences through interaction… leaded by designers. Chilean universities like Pontificia Universidad Católica [PUC] and Adolfo Ibañez [UAI] are reaching slightly to this ground in their curricula.
It is a good start, yet, LATAM governments need to see where THE POWER OF DESIGN can be in the whole picture of local economic development. The Northern Hemisphere already has.