A Cognitive Perspective on Boundary-spanning Is Design

نویسنده

  • Susan Gasson
چکیده

ion (Vitalari and Dickson, 1983). These concepts from the psychology literature converge, and are extended to social interaction, in the notion of a "frame" (Goffman, 1974; Tannen, 1993). The framing concept operates at the intersection of a psychological-cognitive and a social-behavioral approach to human interaction (Ensink and Sauer, 2003). People behave according to "structures of expectation" (Tannen, 1993) that guide how they predict and interpret the behavior of others. Such structures are partly culturally-predetermined and partly based on prior experience of similar situations (Boland and Tenkasi, 1995; Minsky, 1975; Schank and Abelson, 1977; Tannen, 1993). Individuals provide conversational cues, on the basis of which hearers are able to place the communication within a specific context. But an individual cannot contribute to a discourse without displaying their view on the subject matter. Thus, communications are framed both within a specific, situational context and from an individual perspective (Ensink and Sauer, 2003; Tannen, 1993). Individual frames are not static, but subjected to change during communicative and social interaction (Boland and Tenkasi, 1995; Ensink and Sauer, 2003; Eysenck and Keane, 1990). Employing a framing perspective allows us to conceptualize how similarities and differences in individual perspectives and understandings guide collective action. In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 2.3 IS Design As Shared Cognition Groups of people who regularly work together on shared tasks have been observed to develop a repertoire of shared frames. Shared frames provide cognitive "shortcuts" that permit a group to share common interpretations of the organization without the need for complex explanations (Boland and Tenkasi, 1995; Brown and Duguid, 1991; Fiol, 1994; Lave and Wenger, 1991). The development of a community of professional practice, such as a design group, is contingent on the development of shared (or intersubjectively acknowledged) meanings and language (Lave, 1991; Prus, 1991). The use of specific language reinforces the extent of shared understanding within a work-group and allows them to reconcile competing or complementary perspectives (Lanzara, 1983; Prus, 1991; Winograd and Flores, 1986). For example, IT developers share a vocabulary that is often unintelligible to other workers, but which allows them to communicate and coordinate work, using shorthand terms such as “this is a blue screen error”. IS design depends upon intersubjectivity for effective communication between team members to take place. Technical system designers, “successful in sharing plans and goals, create an environment in which efficient communication can occur” (Flor and Hutchins, 1991, page 54). This type of perspective-sharing requires not only shared knowledge, but also a shared system of sociocultural norms and values. Organizational framing is embedded within a local system of shared, socio-cultural values that make sense of “how we do things here” (Cook and Brown, 1999; Lave and Wenger, 1991; MacLachlan and Reid, 1994). " Knowledge and understanding (in both the cognitive and linguistic senses) do not result from formal operations on mental representations of an objectively existing world. Rather, they arise from the individual's committed participation in mutually oriented patterns of behavior that are embedded in a socially shared background of concerns, actions, and beliefs." (Winograd and Flores, 1986, page 78) . Orlikowski and Gash (1994) studied the effect that the “shared technological frames” held by two groups of key design stakeholders, technologists and technology-users, had on the adoption and use of Lotus Notes. An analysis of the degree of congruence between the different group frames permitted them to associate changes in how the new technology was implemented with the interpretations and interests of the different groups. By identifying various domains associated with framing perspectives, Orlikowski and Gash were able to locate differences between the belief-structures of technologists vs. users of the 1 Frame congruence does not imply that frames are identical, but that they are related in structure (possessing common categories of frames) and content (with similar values in the common categories) (Orlikowski and Gash, 1994). In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 technology that related to different modes of use and expectations of IT strategy. They concluded that conflicts and difficulties may arise in technical change initiatives where members of the key groups involved hold technological frames that are significantly different. Orlikowski and Gash (1994) argued that work-objectives and culture were sufficiently homogenous among members of their two stakeholder groups to assume a shared technological frame. But defining shared content depends upon the way in which the framing concept is itself defined: we need to examine what is shared, to understand the degree of frame congruence (Cannon-Bowers and Salas, 2001). Cannon-Bowers and Salas (2001) suggest that what is shared in studies of shared cognition falls into four categories: (i) task-specific knowledge, relating to the specific, collective task in hand; (ii) task-related knowledge, experiential knowledge from similar tasks, of how to perform the work-processes that are required; (iii) knowledge of teammates, i.e. who knows what; and (iv) attitudes and beliefs that guide compatible interpretations of the environment. In the Orlikowski and Gash (1994) study, the assumption of shared frames refers only to congruence in the fourth category, attitudes and beliefs that guide compatible interpretations of the environment. Davidson (2002) extended the framing concept provided by Orlikowski and Gash (1994), by analyzing the process of frame sharing and the dominance of different frame domains within a group engaged in a collective task: the specification and design of an organizational information system. Through a thematic analysis of her data, she categorized various frame "domains" that resulted in a specific focus, excluding some design elements or issues from consideration and including others. In other words, adoption of a specific frame domain provided a conceptual boundary, or filter, to group discourse. Davidson found that different frame domains became salient to the group at different points in the process, resulting in the adoption of a different strategy towards the IS design. This use of the term 'frame domain' thus relates to an intersection of the task-related, experiential-knowledge category and of the attitudes and beliefs category defined above (Cannon-Bowers and Salas, 2001). At times when the business value of IT frame-domain dominated group discourse, this led to radical reconsideration of project requirements. At times when the IT delivery strategy frame-domain dominated group discourse, the group reverted to a more conservative definition of requirements, consistent with the perceived need to deliver a known product. Tensions between the assumptions underlying each of these frame domains led to much of the instability in IS design group members' understandings and agreement of the requirements for a new In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 system. Changes in the group's dominant frame domain appeared to be triggered or accompanied by the adoption of a new group metaphor for the rationale behind the current design strategy. From these studies, we understand that the development of shared frames may lead to more coherent group action and that the adoption of a new framing metaphor may reflect a shift in the dominant framing domain that triggers a change in group strategy. But we cannot assume shared frames just because group members share a similar culture (Krauss and Fussell, 1991). We also cannot assume the existence of a shared culture among design group members: recently formed groups, or groups with new members have diverse cultural values (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Moreland et al., 1996). 2.4 IS Design As Distributed Cognition Star (1989) argues that the development of distributed systems should use a social metaphor, rather than a psychological one, where systems are tested for their ability to meet community goals. A social perspective requires the incorporation of differing viewpoints for decision-making. This accords with the position of many authors working on the problem of how to reflect the diversity of organizational needs in IS design (Checkland, 1981; Checkland and Holwell, 1998; Eden et al., 1983; Eden, 1998; Weick, 1987; Weick, 2001). Weick (1987) discusses how teams performing collaborative tasks require a requisite variety of perspectives, to detect all of the significant environmental factors affecting collective decisions. But this is balanced by the need for a homogeneity of culture, within which team members can trust and interpret information from other team members. A wide spread of experience must be expected to cause problems of group cohesion and productivity (Krasner et al., 1987; Orlikowski and Gash, 1994). Boundary-spanning design involves distributed cognition. Understanding within the design team is distributed: each individual can comprehend only a part of how the target system of human activities operates, as shown in Figure 3. In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 Product engineering manager Financial accounting manager IS manager Production manager Marketing manager Operations finance manager Extent of shared understanding Figure 3 : The Problem Of Distributed Knowledge Management A distributed cognition perspective assumes that "heedful interrelating" between members of a cooperative workgroup is required for effective collaboration (Hutchins, 1995). Individuals need to have some interdependency, or overlap, with other individuals in their framing of what needs to be done and why. But the distributed cognition perspective takes the position that there is a lack of overall congruence between how individuals frame organizational work. Understanding is not so much shared between, as "stretched over" members of a cooperative group (Star, 1989). This provides an alternative to the assumption of shared knowledge in coordinated work: “ Distributed cognition is the process whereby individuals who act autonomously within a decision domain make interpretations of their situation and exchange them with others with whom they have interdependencies so that each may act with an understanding of their own situation and that of others.” (Boland et al., 1994, page 457). A distributed cognition perspective allows us to conceptualize a theory of design that permits agreement and negotiated outcomes while recognizing that each individual group member's design understanding may be incomplete, emergent and not congruent with the understanding of others. Established workgroups develop an understanding of who knows what, that allows them to operate with heedfulness to others' tasks and the division of collective work (Moreland et al., 1996). But the coordination of organizational expertise in newly-established groups is complex and difficult, especially in groups that span organizational boundaries. People rarely know who knows what in large organizations (Carlile, 2002; Cramton, 2001; Pfeffer and Sutton, 2000). Knowledge of the organizational processes to be supported by an IS resides in people's heads, rather than in external procedures or documents (Brown and Duguid, 1994; Nonaka and Konno, 1998). It is embedded in practice, rather than being capable of articulation (Fiol, 1994; Schön, 1983). Individuals in boundary-spanning groups possess a diversity of backgrounds that makes it difficult to establish a common basis for understanding or communication In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 (Carlile, 2002; Cramton, 2001). This process is complicated by the competing claims to knowledge of different organizational groups (Compeau et al., 1999; Faraj and Sproull, 2000; Latour, 1987). Members of a boundary-spanning design group may not realize that they hold distributed knowledge or sociallyconstructed perspectives of a design and may perceive misunderstandings as the consequence of political differences (Gasson, 1999). In traditional work groups, there are experts on which the group may rely for guidance, whereas in the design of novel organizational information systems, perceptions of expertise are subjective and negotiated: there is a "symmetry of ignorance" (Rittel, 1972b). A study of software development teams performed by Faraj and Sproull (2000) indicated that the effective management of distributed cognition is significant in ensuring team effectiveness. While the possession of expertise did not directly affect team performance, the coordination of expertise was seen as critical to team success. Social integration was considered more important than having an expert on the team (Faraj and Sproull, 2000). But we do not understand how to coordinate and elicit relevant expertise, or even to identify what expertise is relevant, when the problem-space and solution-space as both viewed as emergent. 2.5 Research Questions From the review of the literature above, we derived the following research question and three subquestions: Research Question: Does the convergence model offer a convincing alternative to the decompositional model of design and, if so, how does the convergence of problemand solution-space take place in boundary-spanning group design? Sub-questions: 1. How do individuals' design frames interact, to form a group "framing" of an information system? 2. Does a design group develop a shared design-frame over time? If so, what aspects of the design are shared? 3. How does a boundary-spanning design group manage and mediate distributed cognition? These questions are addressed in the field study of a boundary-spanning design, presented below. In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 3. RESEARCH METHOD AND SITE 3.1 The Research Site NTEL Ltd. is a mid-sized engineering firm in the UK, specializing in the design, manufacture and sale of products to the telecommunications industry. The subject of this research was the co-design of business and IT systems for customer bid response. The company dealt with a small number of large customers. Products were customized from a pre-existing range of developed components and telecommunications systems, in response to customer invitations to bid for a specific project. The context of the study is shown in Figure 2, as a "rich picture" (Checkland, 1981), presenting activities, roles, relationships, interactions and context in an unstructured, diagrammatic form. As a company, NTEL felt that they were losing business to competitors because of poor responses to customer invitations to bid for new business. A potential customer invited a number of suppliers to submit a Bid for a customer project, detailing how each supplier proposed to fulfill the customer's requirements and at what price. Preparation of this document was performed by a loosely-associated team of people, assembled on an ad hoc basis from the main areas of the business. Functional delegates would work on an individual section of the Bid response document for a few days or weeks (depending upon customer deadlines) until it was ready to be dispatched. Problems with the current Bid response process were highly interrelated and situated in the political and cultural context. This situation therefore provided an exemplary situation in which to study complex, boundary-spanning IS design. Commercial Division reports to prepare part of Response to ITT (a ‘Tender’) Finance Division Potential Customer Invitation to Tender (ITT) submits organises preparation of collates & checks Collated Tender Response despatches IS Manager Tender Manager Engineering Division Operations Division is sent to Marketing Division prepare part of prepare part of prepare part of prepare part of Process Improvement Manager Figure 4 : A Rich Picture Of The Context and Process Of Bid Response At NTEL 2 Names of the organization, its departments, members and products have all been disguised. In Proceedings of AIS SIG-CORE Workshop, Seattle WA, December 14 2003 A prior "business process redesign" initiative was reported to have failed because of a lack of commitment by participants. The IS Manager had therefore ensured active sponsorship by the Managing Director, who backed the IS Manager’s requirement that functional managers should consistently allocate time for the core team members to attend the project meetings. Time was set aside for regular, two to three hour meetings, to be held twice-weekly. Team-members were selected who would have a positive attitude to organizational change from a wide area of functional responsibilities, but these were also largely selected on the basis of their ability to command respect, participation and "buy-in" from their respective workgroups, ensuring a collective ownership of the design. A company organization chart is shown in Figure 5. Participating members of the design team are shown in bold type in the diagram. The abbreviations shown are those used to differentiate between individuals in the discourse extracts and framing summaries that follow.

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تاریخ انتشار 2003