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Title: Information management environment for engineering design in multi-location companies : four case studies in China
Author: Zhang, Shuai
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Information management systems are being developed and introduced to engineering design activities to help companies reuse their information. This trend has been identified in multi-location companies, which operate design departments at various locations. Investigating how multi-location companies can configure their information management environment to fulfil engineers' information needs in design process opens up a research topic for us. A well configured information management environment will require a clear understanding of what designers need from it. A literature review has identified that only a few studies have observed the way in which design practitioners work in an industrial environment; and since these studies were all conducted 10 or 20 years ago within a specific context, their findings may no longer reflect current practice. The first phase of this research investigates the information needs of designers in the vehicle industry, and the different approaches and resources that they currently adopt to fulfil these needs. The findings of this first phase of research are then used to identify further industry-based studies. The second phase of the research focuses on the structures and operations of information management for engineering design. A case study of four multi-location companies was conducted to understand their information management environments (IMEs). Primary data was collected in fieldwork visits to the companies. Inductive grounded coding was applied to analyse the data, revealing the constructs of information management environments at the case companies studied. The analyses identified strategic orientations, structures, organisational enablers and individuals' capabilities in case companies' IMEs. A new classification of IMEs was proposed to understand their structural and operational features. The analyses have implications for how companies should configure their IMEs. The studies reported in this dissertation contribute to theory by providing an understanding of the configuration of IMEs in companies and proposing ways of configuring IMEs in practice. Researchers in the domain of information systems can develop a good understanding of how professional practitioners interact with information environments so that they can propose information management systems or methods that make tangible improvements. This study also helps engineers map out the information environment that they search to acquire information. Chief engineers or managers in companies who are in charge of information management can benefit from the understanding of their own information environment and use the proposed model as a guide to configure their own information management environments. The study also suggests future research directions, such as identifying and proposing the indicators that can be used to measure the performance of information management.
Supervisor: Johnson, Aylmer Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Engineering Design ; Informarion Management ; Information Reuse