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Title: From rollout to appropriation : changing practices of development and use during a groupware project
Author: Guy, Elizabeth S.
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis is a contribution to the corpus of workplace studies in the research field of computer-supported cooperative work. It reports on an in-house project to develop customisable groupware (software applications to support collaborative work) and to promote its use at 'GreenFam', an international, non-governmental organisation. This work was observed through a five year program of field research in order to study the methods used by developers in real-world groupware projects. The author initially took the role of participant observer on the project team as LOTUS NOTESTM was introduced to GreenFam's London centre. In the latter stages of research, an evaluation was carried out to report on the use of tools to support collaborative campaign work worldwide and to formulate guidelines for future developments. The field study is presented as three case histories, which track the course of the project. Case 1 looks at the rollout of a new email system, replacing THE COORDINATOR® software. The rollout is described as a competent practice of the IT developers that had evolved to implement customisable software organisation-wide. Case 2 looks at the first phase of the development of collaborative tools to support teams. It explores the difficulties experienced by the developers in realising GreenFam's vision of a more collaborative form of work and the limitations of their current practice. Case 3 describes the in situ evaluation, its methodology and the extent to which groupware tools and practices had evolved through use. Activity theory is employed as a critical method for the analysis of the case histories, focussing on change and the barriers to change in both the practices of developers and the appropriation of tools by users. The study found that during the course of the project the role of developer shifted from the specialised IT staff to 'facilitators', individuals who began to take responsibility for the ongoing development of collaborative tools to support their evolving use. It found a lack of appropriate design tools to support the development of collaborative systems, taking account of these changes in roles and the demands of the work. Further research is proposed, grounded in the study of the emergent roles of developers and the tools that are needed to support their work. A pattern language for modelling the design of common information spaces at GreenFam is described, as an example of the type of method that might be appropriate, and which could be used as an experimental tool in a program of further research. Keywords: activity theory, common information spaces, computer-supported cooperative work, evaluation, groupware, in-house development, pattern language, workplace study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available