Mapping value landscapes



Designers and Stakeholders

Design Phase:



Extended Abstract




This teaching activity broadens students’ perception and understanding of all stakeholders concerned given a specific challenge, especially the multiple relations between them and the different values they hold and/or share.

By partaking in the activity the students will learn to relate a diverse range of direct and indirect stakeholders to the challenge at hand. They will learn to identify stakeholders’ values and relate them to each other in a value landscape that visualises their position. They will also learn to reflect on the outcomes and the impact of kind of visualisation of the value landscapes.


In nowadays society, we are facing complex challenges that can no longer be addressed by individual designers or design teams. Addressing challenges such as sustainability, the energy transition, and obesity requires a multi-stakeholder approach.

When working on such challenges, students should be aware of and understand all the direct and indirect related stakeholders that might have stake or influence the challenge, even though they might not be able to actually run a multi-stakeholder project and meet all these stakeholders. Hence, students require competencies to explore the broader perspective on people and the societal context in which products, systems, or services will be integrated.

In case students lack these competencies, they might not consider the ripple effect of their designs, which could have unforeseen consequences, such as excluding specific user groups. Moreover, with such complex issues, there is a fair chance their design solution will be experienced as rather naïve, or their design will never end up in practice, if they ignore the multistakeholder perspective.

In order to gain such a broader perspective on people and the societal context, they can create a stakeholder value landscape. A value landscape visualises the (key) stakeholders and beneficiaries related to the challenge/topic at hand, as well as the key values that they hold and share and how they differ between the different stakeholders.

The stakeholder value landscape aims at showing basic values, which Schwartz calls those trans-situational goals that guide people to live their lives (Schwartz et al., 2012), but it also shows other meaningful and valuable relations stakeholders have, both intangible (e.g. needs, feelings, expressions), tangible (goods and services), financial (money), or in the form of information.

Creating stakeholder value landscapes can be done in various ways, depending on the topic at hand, the intended outcome and the availability to meet stakeholders. A very well known example is the “value flow model” by Den Ouden and Brankaert (2013), although they put less emphasis on basic values. There are many more (expressive) forms of value landscapes that can be made to explore the challenge. See the provided slides for various examples.

The mapping is best done after having done the initial research phase so students can have some understanding about the stakeholders involved.


After the teaching activity students will be able to:

  • identify the different direct and indirect stakeholders to the challenge at hand and the values they have and bring in,
  • relate all stakeholders and their (related) values, by mapping them in a value landscape,
  • identify the various types of relations between the stakeholders concerned, based on their different values, joint interests and concerns, and impact they might have on the project and the other stakeholders involved,
  • identify which form and expression of mapping fits their project and purpose, i.e. they are able to relate content and expression.


  • Select the type of visualisation:
    Decide upon the kind of visualisation(s) to use for making the mapping. Value Landscapes can be made in various ways, from simple paper sketches to acted-out spatial mappings. All types of visualisations have their own benefits and advantages related to the expertise students have, the complexity of the challenge, the availability of the stakeholders concerned, the preference for a 1st or 3rd person perspective, the creativity used and the time available to make the mapping. Examples of different ways of mapping Value Landscapes can be found in the provided slides. These examples and their underlying rationale support teachers in selecting an appropriate type of mapping.
  • Organise the space and materials for the mapping exercise:
    Select an appropriate space giving the selected type of mapping, e.g. the acted-out spatial mapping requires a fairly large empty space, whereas a paper sketch requires a table. Make sure to have enough space for all participants to actively contribute. Gather all necessary materials, e.g. for the acted-out spatial mapping you need a photo camera to document the mapping, for expressive landscapes you need tinkering materials, and for paper mappings you need the right paper and pens. When everything is collected, prepare the space for the activity.
  • Prepare the introduction and handouts:
    Prepare a short presentation on mapping value landscapes, elucidating the different value flows and relations they can have, and showing a few examples of value mappings. Include an example of a completed session using the tools the students will also use, in order for them to gain an understanding of the activity planned.

    Collect the suggested papers on human values (Schwartz, 2012, 2017; Schwartz et al., 2012) and human scale development (Max-Neef, 1991), which students will use during the mapping activity, and provide them to the students.


Initially, this teaching activity focuses on guiding students to map a value landscape. If students become more experienced, they can also facilitate workshops with external stakeholders to have them map value landscapes.

Step 1 - Explanation activity at the start:

  • The students are introduced to the topic of value landscapes, with a short presentation about the purpose of making value landscapes, and what kind of relations the stakeholders can have, including showing some example maps of value landscapes.
  • Moreover, the students are introduced to related theories, including human values (Schwartz, 2012, 2017; Schwartz et al., 2012) and human scale development (Max-Neef, 1991) which they will use during the mapping activity.
  • The tools and the procedure are explained, including showing an example of a completed session (a visualised value landscape), in order for students to gain an understanding of what they are supposed to do during the activity. A clear time frame is given for the activity.

Step 2 - Mapping a value landscape:

  • Students start with briefly stating the challenge at hand for which they want to make a value landscape, as well as the purpose of their landscape, e.g. to make an overview of the existing situation (which stakeholders are actually involved), of the preferred situation (which stakeholders do the students want to have involved), or the possible situation (which stakeholders could potentially be involved). As a design exercise, it is recommended to start with the first (actual) and end the exercise with the latter (possible).
  • Students start with identifying and visualising key stakeholders. It is beneficial to have students working in teams to have more creative brainpower to create these mappings.
  • Thereupon, they identify and visualise the stakeholders and their interrelations, which can have different forms: human values (Schwartz, 2012, 2017; Schwartz et al., 2012), human needs and satisfiers (Max-Neef,1991), intangible values (e.g. needs, feelings, expressions, ideas, reputation, ...), tangible values (goods, services, ...), financial values (money, bitcoins, activities, ...), or information.
  • The students will critically evaluate the mapping and imagine who is missing and include those stakeholders in the mapping. Are there any non-targeted users missing, are marginalised groups missing, are opponents of the project missing, are silent witnesses missing, are potential future stakeholders that might be impacted by the challenge missing? Students also have to look at micro, meso and macro scale parties, where micro scale refers to specific individuals and macro scales to cultures and large communities

Step 3: Reflection

  • After all students have finished their mapping, the entire group of students reflects together with the teacher on all the value landscapes made by comparing their outcomes.
  • After this reflection, students apply the insights and update their mapping based on their joint reflection. If preferred, the students can also be asked to document their reflection and hand this in for feedback from the teacher (see Assessment).
  • After the activity, all students document their final mapping. In case they have made a spatial mapping, the result can be captured in photos or images. The students are asked for permission to use their output as examples in upcoming classes.


To assess whether the intended learning outcomes were attained by the teaching activity the following assessment activities can be carried out (in class or after class).


Assess students' learning by asking them to write a reflective value report (formative assessment) where they present their value landscapes, understanding of stakeholders and reflect on how the relations between stakeholders might impact the project and the other stakeholders involved.

Assess students' learning by making them do peer feedback (authentic assessment) on each other’s value landscapes. Ask them to comment and pose questions in relation to how it reflects an understanding of all stakeholders concerned given the specific challenge and how well it identifies stakeholders values and relations to each other.


In the assessment activity ask students to focus on:

  • explaining how they would go about in identifying the different direct and indirect stakeholders and their values,
  • discussing how stakeholders and values are related and what kind of relationships there may be between them,
  • how form and expression of the mapping fit their project and purpose, i.e. that they are able to relate content and expression,
  • demonstrating that they are able to pick the appropriate mapping for their purpose, i.e. they are aware of the relation between the form and expression of the mapping on the one hand, and the content and purpose of a mapping on the other hand.


Max-Neef, Manfred (1991). Human scale development: conception, application and further reflections. New York: The Apex Press.

Schwartz, Salom H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25, 1–65.

Schwartz, Shalom H; Cieciuch, Jan; Vecchione, Michele; Davidov, Eldad; Fischer, Ronald; Beierlein,Constanze; Ramos, Alic; Verkasalo, Markku; Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik; Demirutku, Kursad; Dirilen-Gumus,Ozlem; & Konty, Mark (2012). Refining the theory of basic individual values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103(4):663-688.

Schwartz, Shalom H. (2017). The Refined Theory of Basic Values. In Roccas, S. & Sagiv, L. (Eds). Values and behavior: Taking a cross-cultural perspective (p. 51–72). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. http://10.1007/978-3-319-56352-7

Ouden, den, Elke & Brankaert, Rens G.A. (2013). Designing new ecosystems : the value flow model. In C. Bont, de, P. H. Ouden, den, R. Schifferstein, F. Smulders, & M. Voort, van der (Eds.). Advanced design methods for successful innovation (p. 189–209). Den Haag: Design United.