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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

IS action research: State of the art and future directions

Ola Henfridsson

Viktoria Institute & Halmstad University

action research
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)
is action research
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)
slide5

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

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
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
background the role of the it artifact in ar
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 state1
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
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
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
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
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
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
multi contextuality in ubiquitous computing
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
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
slide21
MOBILE DEVICE MANIPULATION

(PHYSICAL) CONTEXT CHANGE

ATTENTION-SHIFTING

PRE-PARING

(WIRED) WORK-AROUNDS

design principles
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
The SeamlessTalk prototype
  • Facilitates driver (or passenger) control of Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones brought into the car
  • Embeds the design principles developed
ubicomp challenges
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
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