Center for Coordination Science
1995 TECHNICAL REPORTS AND WORKING
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1995 Working Papers
This paper describes a study of the use of computer conferencing for
work group communication and coordination. The goal of the study was to
examine the relationship between group context and technology utilization,
i.e. the social factors which influence a group's use of groupware. This
paper describes three work groups, identifies patterns of computer conferencing
use for each group, and examines the relationship between use patterns
and group context. The findings provide considerations for groupware introduction.
Lorin Hitt and Erik Brynjolfsson
The business value of information technology (IT) has been debated for
a number of years. Some authors have found large productivity improvements
attributable to computers, as well as evidence that IT has generated substantial
benefits for consumers. However, others continue to question whether computers
have had any bottom line impact on business performance. In this paper,
we focus on the fact that productivity, consumer value and business performance
are separate questions and that the empirical results on IT value depend
heavily on which question is being addressed and what data are being used.
Applying methods based on economic theory, we are able to examine the
relevant hypotheses for each of these three questions, using recent firm-level
data on IT spending by 367 large firms. Our findings indicate that computers
have led to higher productivity and created substantial value for consumers,
but that these benefits have not resulted in measurable improvements in
business performance. We conclude that while modeling techniques need
to be improved, these results are consistent with economic theory, and
thus there is no inherent contradiction between increased productivity,
increased consumer value and unchanged business performance.
Paul Resnick and Robert A. Virzi
Menus, lists, and forms are the workhorse dialogue structures in telephone-based
interactive voice response applications. Despite diversity in applications,
there is a surprising homogeneity in the menu, list, and form styles commonly
employed. There are, however, many alternatives, and no single style fits
every prospective application and user population. A design space for
each dialogue structure organizes the alternatives and provides a framework
for analyzing their benefits and drawbacks. In addition to phone based
interactions, the design spaces apply to any limited bandwidth, temporally
constrained display devices, including small screen devices such as Personal
Digital Assistants (PDAs) and screen phones.
A key problem in organization theory is to suggest new organizational
forms. In this paper, I suggest the use of genetic algorithms to search
for novel organizational forms by reproducing some of the mechanics of
organizational evolution. Issues in using genetic algorithms include identification
of the unit of selection, development of a representation and determination
of a method for calculating organizational fitness. As an example of the
approach, I test a proposition of Thompson's about how interdependent
positions should be assigned to groups. Representing an organization as
a collection of routines might be more general and still amenable to evolution
with a genetic algorithm. I conclude by discussing possible objections
to the application of this technique.
This paper examines the use of a groupware technology--Lotus Development
Corporation's Notes® --in the context of customer support to understand
how the technology was used to enable organizational changes over time.
Building on its successful implementation of the technology two years
ago, the customer support department underwent a number of organizational
changes that altered the nature and distribution of work, forms of collaboration,
utilization and dissemination of knowledge, and coordination with internal
and external units. These changes were enacted through a series of intended
as well as opportunistic modifications to both the technology and the
organization. The effectiveness of this change process suggests a strategy
of implementing and using groupware technology that focuses first on enacting
some initial planned organizational changes, and then builds on these
to enact emergent changes in response to the opportunities and conditions
occasioned by the planned changes. Because groupware technologies are
largely open-ended and adaptable, this process of evolving organizationally
with the technology over time may be a particularly useful way of implementing
organizational change around groupware.
George Wyner and Jintae Lee
Object-oriented analysis and design methodologies take full advantage
of the object approach when it comes to modeling the objects in a system.
However, system behavior continues to be modeled using essentially the
same tools as in traditional systems analysis: state diagrams and dataflow
diagrams. In this paper we extend the notion of specialization to these
process representations and identify a set of transformations which, when
applied to a process description, always result in specialization. We
analyze specific examples in detail and demonstrate that such a use of
specialization is not only theoretically possible, but shows promise as
a method for categorizing and analyzing processes. We identify a number
of apparent inconsistencies between process specialization and the object
specialization which is part of the object-oriented approach. We demonstrate
that these apparent inconsistencies are superficial and that the approach
we take is compatible with the traditional notion of specialization.