Patterns of Language in Organizations: Implications for CSCW

  • C. Hutchison
Part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work book series (CSCW)


In this chapter I outline four (of many possible) views of the role of language in cooperative working. My intent is neither to be exhaustive nor profouond, but rather to simply draw attention to the central part that language plays in group work and consequently to highlight its relevance to the design of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) systems. I take it as uncontroversial that interpersonal (and intergroup) communication is a sine qua non of all organizational work, that the importance of communication in the operation and hence behaviour of the organization is now well understood (e.g. Farace et al. 1977; Francis 1987; Kanter 1989; Kotter 1983; Robb 1990), and thus hope to show that attention to the issues raised below (although they may at first sight seem tangential to “hard” CSCW, namely the design and evaluation of groupware) is highly pertinent, and arguably crucial, to CSCW as a discipline concerned with “the study and theory of how people work together, and how the computer and related technologies affect group behaviour” (Greenberg 1991, p. 1). On that understanding, more useful than a technology-centred distinction between single-user and (paradigmatically synchronous distributed) group-user systems might be a task-orientated distinction between single-agent and multi-agent problem solving, where that problem solving is supported by computers.


Fruitful Development Institutional Context Computer Support Cooperative Work Information System Development Task Domain 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1994

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  • C. Hutchison

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