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1995 Working Papers

No. 182

The Impact of Group Context on Patterns of Groupware Use: A Study of Computer Conferencing as a Medium of Work Group Communication and Coordination

Paul Cole

January, 1995

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.

No. 183

Creating Value and Destroying Profits? Three Measures of Information Technology's Contributions

Lorin Hitt and Erik Brynjolfsson

January 1995

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.

No. 184

Relief from the Audio Interface Blues: Expanding the Spectrum of Menu, List, and Form Styles

Paul Resnick and Robert A. Virzi

January 1995

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.

No. 185

Evolving Novel Organizational Forms

Kevin Crowston

April 1995

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.

No. 186

Evolving with Notes: Organizational Change around Groupware Technology

Wanda Orlikowski

June, 1995

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.

No. 187

Applying Specialization to Process Models

George Wyner and Jintae Lee

September, 1995

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.

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