Is action research state of the art and future directions
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IS action research: State of the art and future directions. Ola Henfridsson Viktoria Institute & Halmstad University. Action Research. Dual goal: “The action researcher is concerned to create organizational change and simultaneously study the process” (Baskerville and Myers 2004, p. 329-330)

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IS action research: State of the art and future directions

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IS action research: State of the art and future directions

Ola Henfridsson

Viktoria Institute & Halmstad University


Action Research

  • Dual goal: “The action researcher is concerned to create organizational change and simultaneously study the process” (Baskerville and Myers 2004, p. 329-330)

  • Common motivations:

    • Epistemology: pragmatism

    • Relevance to practice

  • Promising methodology, but many different models of action research

  • Action research characteristics (Baskerville and Wood-Harper 1998):

    • Process model (Iterative, reflective, linear)

    • Structure (rigid, fluid)

    • Researcher involvement (collaborative, facilitative, experiment)

    • Primary goals (organizational development, systems design, scientific knowledge, training)


Types of IS action research (Baskerville & Wood-Harper 1998)


IS action research

Two observations:

1. Few examples of empirical AR studies (with the objective of making a domain-specific (substantive) contribution to, e.g., KM or ERP)

  • Relatively many examples of AR theorizing (new models of, or perspectives on, AR)

    2. The IT-artifact has a marginal role in IS action research

  • IT-artifact = “bundles of material and cultural properties packaged in some socially recognized form such as hardware and/or software” (Orlikowski and Iacono 2001)


Observation #1: Few examples of empirical AR studies (with the objective of making a domain-specific (substantive) contribution)


Dominance of AR methodology contributions

Dominance of AR methodology contributions

  • Two lately published special issues:

    • IT & People (2001: Editors: Kock and Lau): 6 articles

    • MIS Quarterly (2004: Editors: Baskerville and Myers): 6 articles

  • Domain-specific (substantive) contributions

    • Davison (2001)

    • Iverson et al. (2004)

    • Kohli and Kettinger (2004)

    • Lindgren, Henfridsson, and Schultze (2004)

    • Street and Meister (2004)

    • Yoong and Gallupe (2001)

  • AR methodology contributions

    • Avison, Baskerville, and Myers (2001)

    • Braa, Monteiro, and Sahay (2004)

    • Chiasson and Dexter (2001)

    • Mårtensson and Lee (2004)

    • McKay & Marshall (2001)

    • Mumford (2001)


Reflections on the current state

  • Methodological development important

  • However, the value of AR must be evaluated in light of alternative methodologies

    • in terms of its capacity to facilitate substantive research contributions

    • in terms of its promised relevance to practice

  • MISQ special issue important to legitimize AR

  • However, action researchers have still things to prove


Observation #2: The IT-artifact has a marginal role in IS action research


IT-artifact:

“bundles of material and cultural properties packaged in some socially recognized form such as hardware and/or software” (Orlikowski and Iacono 2001)

Less inclusive than Hevner et al (2004): (constructs, instantiations, methods, and models)

Role:

Part in the researchers’ action

Part in developing the research contribution

Background: the role of the IT-artifact in AR


Reflections on the current state

  • The IT-artifact is part of the researchers’ action in some IS action research (3 out of the 6/12)

  • The IT-artifact is basically never a significant part of the contribution (developing the contribution)

  • This is a problem in IS action research


Two recent AR projects

  • Design principles for Competence Management Systems [1999-2001]

    • Lindgren, R., Henfridsson, O., and Schultze, U. "Design Principles for Competence Management Systems: A Synthesis of an Action Research Study," MIS Quarterly (28:3) 2004, pp 435-472.

  • Multi-Contextuality in Ubiquitous Computing [2002-2004]

    • Henfridsson, O., and Lindgren, R. "Multi-Contextuality in Ubiquitous Computing: Investigating the Car Case through Action Research," Information and Organization (15:2) 2005, pp 95-124.


AR Methodology in Use at Viktoria

  • Canonical action research (Davison et al. 2004; Susman & Evered 1978)

  • Prototype-based action

  • Delivering “design principles” for a specific system type grounded in socio-technical theory

  • IT-artifact in focus: without leaving social issues behind?


Background

  • Modern automobile – success for ubiquitous computing technologies

    • Whole set of computer systems

    • Weaved into the fabric of our everyday life

  • However, the vehicle has been traditionally a closed system

  • Telematics is slowly changing this

  • The connected car

  • Implications for product development, insurance, car maintenance, transportation,


What is telematics?

  • The integrated use of telecommunications, positioning technologies, and IT

  • Specifically, the use of such systems within road vehicles

  • GM’s OnStar

    • All GM brands (and a few other) sold in the US

    • Subscription model: different service packages

  • Fleet management, infotainment, remote diagnostics, vehicle management, and many more


Personal telematics

  • Integrated use of mobile devices and embedded computing platforms for providing in-car user services

  • Provides temporary and synchronized networks between vehicles and mobile devices for leveraging the convenience and safety such services

  • Lifecycle differences

  • Competition from aftermarket solution providers


Mobile services are multi-contextual

Used over different spatio-temporal contexts by people on the move

Combining mass-scale with situated support: design challenge

Different use requirements in boundary-spanning mobility

Minimal assumptions about use contexts for maximizing mobility and personalization (Lyytinen and Yoo 2002)

Multi-contextuality: the co-existence of different use contexts

Multi-contextuality in ubiquitous computing


Multi-Contextuality in the Car Setting

  • The Car Setting

    • Supports spatial/physical mobility

    • Mobile devices used for handling the temporality of social activity (cf. Kakihara and Sørensen 2002)

    • Provides advanced computing and connectivity capabilities

  • What are the socio-technical design implications related to the co-existence of different use contexts in the car?

  • Grounded action research study (Baskerville & Pries-Heje 1999)

    • Saab Automobile, Mecel, and Vodafone

  • Objectives

    • Develop and evaluate design principles for handling multi-contextuality surrounding mobile device use in cars

    • Explore socio-technical implications in an authentic setting


Mobile phone use in cars: categories, concepts, and data


MOBILE DEVICE MANIPULATION

(PHYSICAL) CONTEXT CHANGE

ATTENTION-SHIFTING

PRE-PARING

(WIRED) WORK-AROUNDS


Design principles

  • The principle of context switching support:

    • Support switches between different physical and social contexts.

  • The principle of contextually adapted manipulation:

    • Provide the user with device or service controls adapted to the spatio-temporal conditions in question.

  • The principle of context-sensitive service synchronization:

    • Make selective services associated with the mobile device available (deemed plausible for the car setting) to users.


The SeamlessTalk prototype

  • Facilitates driver (or passenger) control of Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones brought into the car

  • Embeds the design principles developed


Evaluation overview


UbiComp challenges

  • Synchronizing fluid use patterns

    • Differences in individual use patterns make it hard to deliver mass-scale services

    • The openness of mobile devices triggers an abundance of such use patterns

    • Increased number of services provided by multi-purpose devices

  • Scaling service manipulation

    • A UbiComp environment cannot always be assumed to meet the specific requirements of the services hosted

    • Different interaction models, e.g., differences in temporal assumptions

  • Signaling context-switches through awareness support

    • Context-switching can be a source of uncertainty

    • Signaling context-switches can be an appropriate way to place computing in the background, e.g., audio, motion, and visual feedback


Many thanks for your attention!


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