Designing for the Dynamics of Cooperative Work Activities

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Jakob Bardram
1998 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW'98), pages 89-98
ACM Press
14-18 November 1998

CSCW seems to have a persistent problem of understanding the nature of "cooperative work".
This paper argues that this problem is the direct result of not looking at the dynamic aspects of work — i.e. that cooperative work is not one thing, but different things at different times in different places.
Based on Activity Theory the paper gives a conceptual framework for understanding the dynamics of collaborative work activities, and argues that the design of computer support should view cooperative breakdowns not as a problem but as an important resource in design.
These arguments are based on empirical studies of healthcare work and the design of a computer support for planning and scheduling operations and other activities within a hospital.

keywordsCooperative work, dynamics, Activity Theory, design, healthcare