“What is Design Worth?” Narrating the Assetization of Design





assetization, design, narrative, script, reports, organization


This article explores how financial logics and investment rationalities are intersecting with and shaping the expert discourse and practice of professional design. It uses “assetization” as a conceptual category to make sense of recent efforts to account for the value of design in financial terms. Specifically, the article provides a narrative-semiotic analysis of a report on “The Business Value of Design” published by McKinsey & Company, unfolding how design is valued in terms of its capacity to deliver future earnings for shareholders, and thus made to acquire the asset form. The article foregrounds how can the assetization of design be understood not only as evidence of the gradual spread of financialized valuations, but also as an organizing act underpinned by a script that activates characters and defines frames of action around the use of design in firms. It shows how this script entangles the coordinated expansion and monitoring of design activities within firms with the fervor for shareholder value maximization and capital gains, drawing a convenient line of causation between them as a near certainty. The article contributes to our understanding of how the cultural condition that makes the spread of assetization possible is to an important extent established in the ongoing and everyday work of striving to systematize and increase creativity in organizations.




How to Cite

Navarro Aguiar, Ulises. 2023. “‘What Is Design Worth?’ Narrating the Assetization of Design”. Valuation Studies 10 (1):32-57. https://doi.org/10.3384/VS.2001-5992.2023.10.1.32-57.



Theme Issue. Valuation as a Semiotic, Narrative, and Dramaturgical Problem.