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1998 Working Papers

No. 203

A Knowledge-Based Approach to Handling Exceptions in Workflow Systems

Mark Klein

April 1998

This paper describes a novel knowledge-based approach for helping workflow process designers and participants better manage the exceptions (deviations from an ideal collaborative work process caused by errors, failures, resource or requirements changes etc.) that can occur during the enactment of a workflow. This approach is based on exploiting a generic and reusable body of knowledge concerning what kinds of exceptions can occur in collaborative work processes, how these exceptions can be detected, and how they can be resolved. This work builds upon previous efforts from the MIT Process Handbook project and from research on conflict management in collaborative design.

No. 204

A Coordination Theory Approach to Process Description and Redesign

Kevin Crowston and Charles Osborn

July 1998

Managers must understand, influence, and redesign organizational processes to improve business performance. In this paper we present a technique for documenting a business process. The technique has six steps: defining process boundaries, collecting data, determining actors and resources, determining activities, determining dependencies and model verification. While similar to other process-mapping techniques, our approach is novel in incorporating ideas from coordination theory, thus the attention to dependencies. As a result, the technique is useful both for documenting a process and suggesting ways in which the process could be redesigned. We present an extended illustration with the hope that the technique can be used by readers of this article.

No. 205

Genre Systems: Structuring Interaction through Communicative Norms

Wanda Orlikowski and JoAnne Yates

July 1998

In this paper, we demonstrate that teams may use genre systems -- sequences of interrelated communicative actions -- strategically or habitually to structure their collaboration. Using data from three teams' use of a collaborative electronic technology, Team Room, over an eight month period, we illustrate that genre systems are a means of structuring six aspects of communicative interaction: purpose (why), content (what), form (how), participants (who/m), time (when), and place (where). We suggest that CSCW researchers, designers, implementors, and users may benefit from an explicit recognition of the role genre systems can play in collaboration.

No. 206

Toward Dialogue Documents as Creative Conversational Tools

Manabu Ueda

July 1998

In this paper I proposed the creation of a dialogue document for making available the knowledge contained within a creative conversation process. I discussed three main issues: the role of ordinary documents, the need to better represent conversation processes rationally, and the costs of editing conversation. I looked at the reasons why we rarely see the knowledge from the conversation process recorded in documents, even though this knowledge is in same cases as important as the result of the conversation. The dialogue documents I propose are documents of edited actual transcript for readers. My argument is that such documents in dialogue form, are the most effective way to provide access to the knowledge included in the conversation process, because the dialogue documents allow readers to become virtual audiences in the conversation. This means that dialogue documents convey not only explicit knowledge but also allow access to some tacit knowledge by relying on the reader's active formulation of the experience. Perhaps, this is the essential value of dialogue. To crystallize my notion of the dialogue document, I discussed its features in contrast with those of a transcript of conversation as well as an ordinary document. I analyzed the dialogue document from the perspective of 'production costs and benefits' and 'message quality and editing time'. Finally, I considered the possibility of IT support for the dialogue document production process and I discussed the implications of both the technological and social aspects of dialogue documents production and use.

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