Boundary-Spanning Practice In Digitally-Mediated Social Environments
My work focuses on collaboration processes, environments and technologies. Digital technology use and design are situated within a social context - and that the social context of most contemporary digital applications spans knowledge domain and expertise boundaries. I typically address three research threads, each of which is related to technology mediated collaboration. My studies are characterized by the use of qualitative, (mainly) grounded theory methods:
Figure 1. Research Threads Related to Technology-Mediated Collaboration
Boundary-Spanning Design Processes:Choices in the design of technology and the effects of alternative forms of technology on work are formed by definitions of organizational problems and, in turn, affect how organizational problems are defined. So design choices are emergent. Technology and process design, organizational innovation, problem-solving, and management decision-making are inextricably intertwined. An additional complication is introduced when collaborative groups span multiple knowledge domains. This research investigates how boundary-spanning groups function -- what processes need to be managed to support effective collaborative problem-solving and design.
Knowledge creation and sharing in distributed collaboration environments: The tension between local, context-specific knowledge & practices, and the type of global, generic knowledge & practices required to, for example, run a business organization or to coordinate work across community action groups, presents major challenges to the design, use, and acceptance of digital technologies in organizations and in society. But an information system (IS) is not simply an assemblage of hardware and software. Increasingly, we see a move towards the ‘objectualization’ of social relations, as objects progressively displace persons as relationship partners in distributed or virtual organizations. We must consider the design of human affordance, support for social relations, and also the design of the information structures embedded in the socio-technical nexus provided by an information system.
Human-Centered Information System Design: Human-centered design ensures that information system design and configuration choices support, rather than constrain, the exercise of human skills, knowledge and capabilities. The objectification of human attributes, such as knowledge, expertise, and the capability for informed decision-making has led to design choices that severely constrain the ability of humans to recover from machine-instigated problems. We need design approaches and representations that model salient aspects of the system of human activity, not just the mechanistic operations to be automated or codified into the system.
Grounded Theory Research Methods: I am known for my work on ensuring rigor and a systematic process of analysis for qualititative studies that generta grounded theory. My book chapters on Grounded Theory application to interpretive IS studies are considered a standard reference.