Evolving artifacts at work: A case study of computer-supported cooperative work implementation in a bank
Marlin Merle Cluts, Northern Illinois University, United States
Northern Illinois University . Awarded
This research describes a two-year project involving the implementation of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) software in a community bank. The purpose was to develop a greater understanding of the nature and characteristics of cooperative work and to provide insight into interactions among technology, work, and organization.
Specific examples of cooperative work involving the new software were studied in search of the evolution of artifacts. Methods of determining artifact meaning, sharing, and credibility were also observed. Activity theory provided a guide and a useful model for discussing the elements involved, including mediating artifacts such as tools, rules, and division of labor. Such artifacts carried a residue of the history of the relationship between the elements they mediated. The hierarchy included in activity theory also yielded perspectives into the dynamics of evolving artifacts and activity systems.
The activity theory concept of praxis and the characteristics of communities of practice were particularly insightful in understanding interpersonal interactions in accomplishing work. Users in the study needed to experience results within the activity and social structure of the community to establish meaning and credibility.
Based on the dimensions that evolved from the study, recommendations were developed for both developers of CSCW software and managers of work groups. Activity theory forced a well-defined context to be considered. The natural evolution of activity systems and characteristics of communities of practice also provided additional insight worthy of attention.
Cluts, M.M. Evolving artifacts at work: A case study of computer-supported cooperative work implementation in a bank. Ph.D. thesis, Northern Illinois University.
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