Organisations - Related Papers

Virtual Organisations and the Customer: How ‘virtual organisations’ deal with ‘real’ customers - Professor John Hughes, Dave Randall, Jon O'Brien, Mark Rouncefield, Peter Tolmie

This paper reflects on the results of a long-standing ethnography of customer-facing work within a large retail Bank. Features of the contingent and skilful nature of that work, in an institution undergoing large scale organisational change, are documented and used to comment on aspects of working with ‘virtual customers’ within an organisation that might be seen as moving towards the model of the ‘virtual organisation’.

Hughes, J. (1999) Virtual organisations and the customer: how 'virtual orgaisations' deal with 'real' customers. In: Proceedings of the UK academy for informtion systems (UKAIS) conference, York

"Making The Organisation Come Alive": Talking Through And About The Technology In Remote Banking - Dave Martin, Mark Rouncefield

Organizations have increasingly been seeking to interact with their customers using more 'remote channels', such as telephone and computer based technologies. This process has been a part of dramatic technological upheavals as technology enters into customer interactions. This paper examines examples of this changing relationship, documenting the role of technology in delivering banking services over remote channels. We present details from two ethnographic studies concerning physical and digital representations of artifacts, talk and the organization of customer-facing work and their relevance in 'designing for the expanded interface'. In telephone banking, sharing of objects and reconciliation between different instantiations is achieved through conversation. In videoconferencing, despite visual access to the same artifact, operators still need to guide customers around objects, explaining what they are seeing, what is happening. We look at the use of scripts designed to standardize operator interactions; the demeanour work undertaken by operators to account for the behaviour of technology; discuss attempts to configure customer interactions and consider issues of trust in such technologically mediated communication.

Rouncefield, M., Martin, D., Procter, R. & Slack, R. (2003). Making the Organisation Come Alive: Talking Through and About the Technology in Remote Banking. Human Computer Interaction, 18 (1 & 2). pp. 111-148.

Managing Relationships - Where the 'Virtual' Meets the 'Real'
- Peter Tolmie, John Hughes, Mark Rouncefield, Wes Sharrock

Notions such as the 'virtual organisation' and 'virtual teamwork' have recently received much attention. Focusing on the customer-facing work of a 'Relationship Manager' in a major UK retail bank that is moving towards a 'virtual' model, we empirically assess the proposed outcomes of such organisational change. We consider the way IT-mediated resources are brought to bear within the interaction, the way any decisions made subsequently get justified to the organisation, and the way strategic plans are instantiated in everyday work. Our findings indicate that is the stable interactional comptences that Relationship Managers exhibit in their negotiations with their customers that enable any changes, 'virtual' or otherwise, to be rendered 'real'.

Tolmie, P., Hughes, J. A., Rouncefield, M. & Sharrock, W. (1998). Managing Relationships - Where the ‘Virtual’ meets the ‘Real’, in Proceedings of EASST ’98, Lisbon, September, 1998.

Some ‘real’ problems of ‘virtual’ organisation. - John Hughes, Jon O’Brien, Dave Randall, Mark Rouncefield and Peter Tolmie

One of the organisational concepts which is currently receiving considerable attention is that of the 'virtual organisation' (Dividow and Malone, 1992) and associated notions such as 'virtual teamwork'. Although admittedly replete with conceptual confusions and clearly accompanied by considerable 'hype' such organisational forms, it is claimed, address major transformations in the social, economic and technological environment in which organisations operate. These diagnoses of organisational change need to be subjected to close empirical examination since other views are considerably less sanguine about the organisational consequences of such massive technological change.
This paper attempts just such an empirical investigation by reporting on a long term ethnographic study of the implementation of 'virtual teamworking' within a 'High Street' Bank. The implementation of 'virtual teamwork' is not unproblemmatic and the ethnographic research reported here attempts an in-depth understanding of the interactions between the 'virtual' and the 'real', between organisational change, performance and skill by focussing on the ways in which such strategic plans as 'virtual teamwork' are instantiated in day-to-day working practices. The ethnographic research highlights a number of 'real' organisational problems that have emerged with the movement towards 'virtual' organisation.

Hughes, J. A., OʼBrien, J., Randall, D., Rouncefield, M., & Tolmie, P. (2007). Some “real” problems of “virtual” organisation. New Technology Work and Employment, 16(1), 49-64. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Remembrance of Designs Past: Legacy Data, Organisational Memory and Distributed Design - Dave Randall, Tom Rodden, Mark Rouncefield and Ian Sommerville

This chapter reports on an ethnographic study of a manufacturing design team in order to understand some features of how distributed, legacy product data is managed and accessed in everyday work. It describes the routine activity of design work and documents how issues of 'legacy' and 'organisational memory' are instantiated in routine work. The general motivation for the study derived from an interest in understanding the impact of legacy systems and legacy data as organisations confront a number of major and connected transformations in the social, economic and technological environment in which they operate. While there are various diagnoses and explanations of these transformations (Lash and Urry, 1987) (Hammer and Champy, 1993); most stress the role of IT in responding to manifest organisational needs.  These include a greater reliance on knowledge creation and conversion, the growing importance of the consumer, the growth of distributed organisational structures, and the creation of more flexible patterns of organisational relationships. IT may be viewed as the crucial element in facilitating these changes, through the development of systems that can facilitate coordination and communication, and support skill and knowledge (Zuboff, 1988; Scott-Morton 1991). Paradoxically, and at the same time IT is also commonly regarded as holding back organisational change as legacy problems, problems of integrating, evolving or replacing ageing systems, proliferate. 

Randall, D., Rodden, T., Rouncefield, M. & Sommerville, I. (2002). Remembrance of designs past: legacy data, organisational memory and distributed design. In Systems engineering for business process change, Peter Henderson (Ed.). Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., New York, NY, USA 317-330.

Complexities of Multi-organisational Error Management - John Dobson, Simon Lock, David Martin

In this paper we shall look at some of the problems in designing an information and communication (ICT) system for an organisation located in a complex multi-organisational setting. We shall look in particular at the handling of errors both within the ICT itself and in the complex multi- organisational activities which the ICT is designed to support. We shall discuss the role of ethnography in uncovering some of the complexities and possible sources of error. We shall conclude by offering some advice to system designers which should prevent them from repeating mistakes which have been made all too often before.

Lock, S., Martin, D. & Dobson, J. (2005). Complexities of Multi-Organisation Error Management. In: Complexity in Design and Engineering (CID) Workshop.

Working with "Constant Interruption": CSCW and the Small Office - Mark Rouncefield, John A Hughes, Tom Rodden , Stephen Viller

Ethnographic studies of CSCW have often seemed to involve the investigation of relatively large scale and highly specific systems; consequently ignoring the small office within which many people spend much of their working lives and which is a major site for the introduction and implementation of IT. This paper is concerned with a ‘quick and dirty’ ethnographic study of a small office that was considering the introduction of greater levels of IT. The process of work in a small office and its recurrent features; notably the massive volume of paperwork; the importance of local knowledge in the accomplishment of work; and the phenomenon of ‘constant interruption’; are outlined as generic features of office work. This paper suggests that despite the obvious contrasts with work settings analysed in other ethnographic studies, similar features of cooperative work can be observed in the small office and that the issues of cooperation and the sociality of work cannot be forgotten about even in small scale system design.

Hughes, J., Rouncefield, M., & Viller, S. (1994). Working with constant interruption: CSCW and the small office. Proc of CSCW.

‘Safety in Numbers’: Calculation and Document Re-Use in Knowledge Work
- Richard Harper, Rob Procter, Dave Randall, Mark Rouncefield

This paper presents detailed examples of document use and re-use, through an ethnographic study of the knowledge work associated with road safety audit in a civil engineering consultancy The paper incorporates some detailed observation of practices, conversations, and other activities occurring around document re-use in everyday work. It outlines some aspects of the everyday use and re-use of engineering documents in the practical accomplishment of everyday knowledge work as the first stage in considering how these activities can be technologically supported.

Rouncefield, M., Harper, R., Procter, R., & Randall, D. (2001). Safety in Numbers: Calculation and Document Re-Use in Knowledge Work. Proceedings of the 2001 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work GROUP 01, 242-251. ACM Press.

Wisdom, decision support and paradigms of decision making - Adrian Mackenzie, Michael Pidd, John Rooksby, Ian Sommerville, Ian Warren, Mark Westcombe

Many decision support tools have been developed over the last 20 years and, in general, they support what Simon termed substantive rationality. However, such tools are rarely suited to helping people tackle wicked problems, for which a form of procedural rationality is better suited. Procedurally rational approaches have appeared in both management science and computer science, examples being the soft OR approach of cognitive mapping and the design rationale based on IBIS. These approaches are reviewed and the development of Wisdom, a procedurally rational decision support process and accompanying tool, is discussed and evaluated.

Mackenzie, A., Mackenzie, A., Rooksby, J., Sommerville, I., Westcombe, M., & Westcombe, M. (2006). Wisdom, decision support and paradigms of decision making. European Journal Of Operational Research, 170(1), 156-171. The Department of Management Science.