An investigation of a framework to evaluate computer supported collaborative work

by Beauvais, E.A.M.

Abstract (Summary)
Rapidly changing technology constantly modifies the way in which tasks are conceived and executed. Furthermore, leading organisations also encourage the use of new technology to support and establish innovative ways of doing business. For example, technology has helped to drive the globalization and tighter integration of world markets. This has facilitated, and even necessitated, business organisations to compete for work across national borders. For geographically dispersed organisations, collaboration has become critical. But this has presented time and space work complexities. Communication and collaboration technologies, for example, are needed to support such emerging co-operative business practices.

The short development cycle of technology, communication and collaborative technologies included, leaves little time for testing and less for understanding the impact of new technology. To compound the problem, no established formulae exist for matching technology with work: over-investment is a waste of resources, while under-investment could lead to work failure. This research proposes a framework to assist organisations in selecting the appropriate level of technology with the work required.

In this study, the methodology developed by the Evaluation Working Group, the DARPA Intelligent Collaboration and Visualization program is extended, and a matrix framework is constructed which compares the success of generic work tasks against a range of technology resources. The framework is tested using a low resource configuration, with selected work task types generally found in software development. (The Joint Application Development (JAD) methodology for software development is used as the contextual basis of the experiment.) All activities are evaluated according to selected measure components of success. A collection of research methods known as ethnography is used to examine and test the framework. Methods employed include questionnaires, interviews, interaction analysis and ethnomethodology.

The results indicate that even at a low resource level, given selected criteria, collaborative technology successfully supports certain collaborative work activities. Findings also indicate that softer people issues require much more attention in order for technology to support natural collaborative work. Finally, user defined parameter testing has indicated that the framework functions as expected and designed.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:information systems computer science


Date of Publication:01/01/2000

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