Collaborating on Multiparty Information Systems Development Projects: A Collective Reflection-in-Action View
New York University
April 16, 2005
Information Systems Research, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 109-130, June 2005
Growth of web-based applications has drawn a great number of diverse stakeholders and specialists into the IS Development (ISD) practice. Marketing, strategy, and graphic design professionals have joined technical developers, business managers, and users in the development of web-based applications. Often, these specialists work for different organizations with distinct histories and cultures. A longitudinal, qualitative field study of a web-based application development project was undertaken so as to develop an in-depth understanding of the collaborative practices that unfold among diverse professionals in ISD projects. The paper proposes that multi-party collaborative practice can be understood as constituting a "collective reflection-in-action" cycle through which an Information Systems (IS) design emerges as a result of agents producing, sharing, and reflecting upon explicit objects. Depending on their control over the various economic and cultural (intellectual) resources brought to the project and developed on the project, agents from diverse backgrounds influence the design in distinctive ways. Their diverse sources of power shape whether collaborators "add to," "ignore," or "challenge" the work produced by others. Which of these modes of collective reflection-in-action are enacted on the project influences whose expertise will be reflected in the final design. Implications for the study of boundary objects, multi-party collaboration, and organizational learning in contemporary ISD are drawn.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: Collaboration, Boundary Spanning, Boundary Objects, Bourdieu, Information Systems Development, ISD, Web Development, Cross-functional teams, interorganizational relations, Don Schon, Refleciton-in-Action
JEL Classification: M10, O31, O32
Date posted: September 18, 2008
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