IT & Work Design
The students learn to conduct work place studies and analyses through the use of ethnographic methods.
Today most new technologies are collaborative and supposed to support multiple, heterogeneous participants engaged in cooperative activities in various private and public domains. Designing, constructing, and integrating collaborative technologies within organizational settings requires carefully executed analyses of the particular organization in terms of IT strategies, work practices, and new technology opportunities. Workplace studies applying ethnographic field methods have proved to support such careful analysis.
In the course the students will be introduced to methods for conducting ethnographic studies with the aim of re-configuring practices and technologies to support particular organizational settings. The objectives of the course are thus to qualify the students to plan, participate, and report upon an ethnographic workplace study conducted within an organization with the aim of re-configuring practices and technologies to support the particular organizational setting. The students will learn to apply theoretical socio-technical concepts to argue, explain, and reflect upon workplace studies aimed at understanding business and workplace realities.
Formal prerequisitesInformation about the course of study This course is part of the second semester in the bachelor's degree in Global Business Informatics.
Intended learning outcomes
After the course, the student should be able to:
- Define a research question within the area of workplace studies related to IT, process, and organisation
- Identify, select, and analyse relevant material (theoretical concepts, method(s), and empirical work) for the research question
- Conduct an ethnographic workplace study within an organisation with the aim of re-configuring practices and technologies to support the particular organisational setting
- Report and communicate the project work (research question, theoretical background, method(s), analysis, argument, and result) in relation to academic standards
- Argue and reflect essential challenges and theoretical concepts relevant when executing workplace studies to understand business and workplace realities
The schedule consists of lectures, exercises and project work in groups with supervision. See blog for more information. The starting point for both course work and project work is the introduction of methods for executing ethnographic fieldwork for design. It will be combined with introductions to fundamental theoretical concepts within the field of workplace studies. In the course work the students will be divided into groups of 5(6) participants that will plan and conduct a workplace study within an organization of their choice. Each group will hand in an academic project report of the workplace studies (in total 30 pages). In the project work the groups will reflect upon their ethnographic workplace study in order to formulate a relevant research question, which they will investigate and finally report upon in an academic report. The project report will be a full academic report, where the students identify, define, analyze their empirical material which they already collected as parts of the course work. In this way the students can choose to focus more on e.g. ethnographic field methods, organizational theory, collaborative technologies, or other aspects connected to their empirical case, they might find interesting. The students will be expected to read approximately 2 articles for each lecture. The exercises will be in the form of supervision as well as project work and other activities. One day a week will be dedicated to group work. The course will be planned in such a way that the students will be able to follow the course including all preparations, participation in class, exercises, empirical work, and readings using 20 hours a week in total.
In order to access some of the articles we read during the semester, you need to be on ITU's net. NB: Please also note that syllabus might change before the course starts.
During the semester we'll read chapters from the book: Randall, D., Harper, R. & Rouncefield, M. (2007): Fieldwork for Design. Theory and Practice. Springer.
Fieldwork for Design is available in hard copy at the ITU library and there's online acces via Copenhagen University library.Bjørn, P., and Rødje, K. (2008): Triage drift: A worksplace study in a pediatric emergency department. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 17(4), pp. 395-419. You need to be on ITU's net in order to access the article for free.
Randall, D., Harper, R., & Rouncefield, M. (2007). Fieldwork for design: Theory and practice. London: Springer. Ch 5 and 6. The book is available in hard copy at the ITU library and there's online access via Copenhagen University library.
Blomberg, J., and Karasti, H. "Reflections on 25 years or ethnography in CSCW," Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal (22) 2013, pp 373-423. You need to be on ITU's net in order to access the article for free.
Blomberg, J., J. Giacomi, et al. (1993). Ethnographic Field Methods and their Relation to Design. Participatory Design: Principles and Practices. D. Schuler and A. Namioka. London, UK, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publisher. Chapter 7, pp. 123-155. (The book can also be found at Copenhagen University library).
Crang, M. & Cook, I. (2007): Doing Ethnographies. Sage. Chapter 4 "Participant observation" p. 37-59 and chapter 5 "Interviewing" p. 60-89. In the online version you read: Chap. 4, part ii "Particpant Observation" + part iii "Interviewing". Access via Copenhagen University library. You can also find the book online, but note that there might be deviations from the hard copy used for the lecture.
Star, S. L. & Strauss, A. (1999): Layers of Silence, Arenas of Voice: The Ecology of Visible and Invisible Work. CSCW, March 1999, Vol. 8, Issue 1, pp. 9-30. You need to be on ITU's net in order to access the article for free.
Randall, D., Harper, R., & Rouncefield, M. (2007). Fieldwork for design: Theory and practice. London: Springer. Ch 1 (p. 1-11). The book is available in hard copy at the ITU library and there's online access via Copenhagen University library.
Klein, H. K., and Myers, M. D. (1999): A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems. MIS Quarterly, 23(1), pp. 67-93
Lichtman, M. (2013): Making Meaning From Your Data. Qualitative Research in Education: A User's Guide. Sage. Chap. 12.
Randall, D., Harper, R., & Rouncefield, M. (2007). Fieldwork for design: Theory and practice. London: Springer. Chap. 3, p. 59-70.
Dreyfus, H. "Intuitive, Deliberative, and Calculative Models of Expert Performance,” Naturalistic Decision Making 1997, pp 17-28.
Mumford, E. "The story of socio-technical design: Reflections on its successes, failures and potential," Information Systems Journal (16) 2006, pp 317-342.
Schmidt, K (1999).: Of maps and scripts: The status of formal constructs in cooperative work. In: GROUP ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group work, ACM press, New York, Phoenix Arizona, pp. 138-147.
Randall, D., Harper, R., & Rouncefield, M. (2007). Fieldwork for design: Theory and practice. London: Springer. Chapter 8.
Heinrich, P., Richter, A., Christensen, L. R., & Schwabe, G. (2018). Creating, Reinterpreting, Combining, Cuing–Paper Practices on the Shopfloor. Group 2018.
Suchman, L. (1994): Do Categories Have Politics? The language/action perspective reconsidered. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 2, pp. 177-190.
Winograd, T. (1994): Categories, Disciplines, and Social Coordination. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 2, pp. 191-197.
Grudin, J., and Grinter, R. (1995): Ethnography and design. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 3, pp. 55-59.
Orlikowski, W. (1995): Categories: Concept, content and context. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 3, pp. 73-78.
Student Activity BudgetEstimated distribution of learning activities for the typical student
- Preparation for lectures and exercises: 18%
- Lectures: 17%
- Exercises: 17%
- Assignments: 12%
- Project work, supervision included: 18%
- Exam with preparation: 17%
- Other: 1%
Ordinary examExam type:
D: Submission of written work with following oral, External (7-point scale)
D2G: Submission for groups with following oral exam supplemented by the submission. Shared responsibility for the report.
Project report of 30 pages in total, using the template provided at the course
- 5(6) persons per group
Mixed exam 1 : Individual and joint student presentation followed by an individual and a group dialogue. The students make a joint presentation followed by a group dialogue. Subsequently the students are having individual examination with presentation and / or dialogue with the supervisor and external examiner while the rest of the group is outside the room.