Intermediary Objects as a Means to Foster Co-operation in Engineering Design
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In this paper we argue that co-operation is aparticular way to co-ordinate an industrialactivity and that it is particularly suited tocollaborative design activity. Through a welldocumented case study of the development of afront truck axle, we point out several keyfeatures of co-operation in an industrialsetting. We particularly pay attention to theinterfaces between the actors involved in thecollaborative process. We observed thepre-eminence of the representations and theobjects created, manipulated, and finally weclaim that they support knowledge creation andtherefore allow the development of a commonunderstanding of the design situation (i.e. theproblem and the solution). We propose theconcept of ``intermediary object'' as aconceptual framework for the involvement ofobjects in the design process. We demonstratethe power of this concept in the analysis andmodelling of particular design situations andin the development of specific objects thatfoster co-operation in real design situations.
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