From Workflow to Conversation
This thesis is about designing information technology to support communicative work. The thesis has a theoretical focus, informed by two empirical studies, but the aim is not to formulate a grand theory, but rather to find new concepts and patterns of thought useful for design. It is based on five papers dealing with the phenomena work, organization, communication and design of information technology. Departure is taken in the view that the role of language is central in the postmodern arena, both as work (i.e. work is communication) and in constituting organizations. While there is research based on this assumption, there is still a great need to find new concepts and new metaphors when designing information technology to support communication and communicative work. The thesis examines, criticizes and elaborates communication models such as speech act theory, conversation analysis and genre theory as a foundation for design In doing this, there is a number of classical issues in industrial work design applicable to communicative work as well, e.g. deskilling versus learning, rule following versus empowerment, local or global control, routinization versus flexibility, workplace democracy, participation in design, etc. These classical questions of work organization and potential effects of information technology on individuals, and organizations are addressed as well.
Göteborg University. School of Business, Economics and Law