In this paper we will focus on organizational design approaches in complex systems. We believe that the design of a complex system cannot be conceived as a process of design completely defined a priori in a linear fashion. On the contrary, it is something dynamic and constantly evolving (designing), which allows the pursuit of pragmatic implementations and, at the same time, creative experimentation and contextual learning. In our knowledge, in literature there aren't previous studies that explore the ‘tension’ that can arise between an overly rational and deterministic design approach and the actual process of design ‘in action’, especially in large, complex and dynamic projects where the social dimension is very relevant. In order to open a debate and trying to highlight this tension, we have conducted a participatory action research that exploits our experience as 'insiders' in the design process of a cultural district. A proposition and research questions for further studies are proposed.
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