Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 341–372 | Cite as

Beyond Boundary Objects: Collaborative Reuse in Aircraft Technical Support



Boundary objects are a critical, but understudied, theoretical construct in CSCW. Through a field study of aircraft technical support, we examined the role of boundary objects in the practical achievement of safety by service engineers. Their resolution of repair requests was preserved in the organization’s memory via three compound boundary objects. These crystallizations did not manifest a static interpretation, but instead were continually reinterpreted in light of meta-negotiations. This suggests design implications for organizational memory systems which can more fluidly represent the meta-negotiations surrounding boundary objects.


boundary objects collaborative work high reliability organizations hotlines information reuse organizational memory safety service engineering technical support 



This project has been funded, in part, by grants from National Science Foundation (IRI-9702904, IRI-0124878, and IIS-0325347) and the UCI/NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center at the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations (CRITO). Additionally, the first author was supported by the University of California Regents’ Dissertation Fellowship.

This work has benefited from conversations with Paul Dourish, Christine Halverson, David McDonald, Jack Muramatsu, Steve Poltrock, Suzanne Schaefer, and Alladi Venkatesh. We would also like to thank the engineers at GTS-West for their enthusiasm, patience, and insight.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information SystemsUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County BaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.School of InformationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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