1 Center for Information and Communication Technologies, Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark3 Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
- betydningen af metastrukturering
In this thesis “Adaptation of Groupware in Organizations – the Importance of Metastructuring” it is examined how different actors can influence their own and others use of a given groupware application through mutual adaptation in groupware and organization. The study is based on empirical material on the adaptation of an internally developed groupware application in three development projects in a global pharmaceutical development and production company. The type of groupware in focus can be characterized according to Grudin and Poltrock’ (1997) terminology as a “Shared- Information-Space”. This is described as places to store and retrieve information in support of asynchronous collaboration. Examples are standard products like Quickplace and BSCW. The analysis of the empirical data is based on an extension of Orlikowski et al. (1995) theoretical model on technology mediation. This extension is informed by work of Nardi (1988) and Trigg and Bødker (1994) on “gardeners” and “tailors” in the efficient adaptation of technology. Theory on configuration of groupware by (Mørch 1997) (Ngwenyama & Lyytinen 1997) (Syri 1997) is also drawn upon, as well as contributions on the importance of conventions in use of groupware and as to how conventions develop in organizations (Mark 2002). This study is based on the premise that generic web based groupware holds new potentials for communication and cooperation in organizations and not least in distributed organizations. Earlier research on this subject has shown that the adaptation of groupware poses great challenges on organizations if the group dimension is to be used. This is because groupware is an open and flexible communication technology open to many competing interpretations. There is thus a need to adjust the groupware to the organizational context and the practices it is to support if the groupware is to have value. Adaptation can be done either through the possibilities of configuration in the groupware or through forming a common approach or common conventions within the organization on how to use and handle the groupware. The process of adaptation is examined with regard to the relationship between metastructuring of technology and application. There is a special focus on how this adaptation is accomplished in relation to the existing communication technologies and the existing patterns of communication, as well as how the adaptation of groupware leads to innovations in the patterns of communication and influencing the use of other communication technologies within the organization. This study also uncovers how different actors through different kinds of explicit metastructuring (understood as configuration, regulation and group regulation) together create the conditions for use of the groupware in practice. Furthermore the study shows that metastructuring can be characterized as a distributed learning process. This means that the process and the use cannot and should not be planned from the outset. It is important to perceive the adaptation in both technology and organization as an ongoing process if the organization is to profit on the insight 6 gained. The consequence of this distributed process is the need to secure the right qualifications (the combination of insight in practice and technology) in local practices so the groupware can also here be put to maximum use.