The coordination of work activities: Cooperation and conflict in a hospital context

Abstract

An understanding of the ways in which work coordination is achieved in practice is essential to the development of effective CSCW technologies. However, previous studies are limited in their focus on small, self-contained work groups. In this analysis of work coordination in a hospital context, a broader perspective was adopted, allowing examination of activities across time, group and location. The use of a relevant structured methodology and a focus on deviations from formal procedures enabled the consideration of a range of contextual factors in interaction: Important aspects of work coordination to emerge included: status influences on the effectiveness of working practices; the social and political uses of information; conflicts between work goals and between motivations for coordinating activities; the role of informal practices; and the use of formal procedures to regulate inter-group relations. The implications of these issues for CSCW design in the hospital context are illustrated.

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Symon, G., Long, K. & Ellis, J. The coordination of work activities: Cooperation and conflict in a hospital context. Comput Supported Coop Work 5, 1–31 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00141934

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Key words

  • coordination
  • medical work
  • formal procedures
  • informal practices
  • CSCW design