University of Maryland

Fall 2013 Reading Group Schedule

Decision Rights

November 19
11am – 12 pm
2116 Hornbake

This article discusses decision rights, or who makes a decision with an organization to produce the best results and products, using information systems development (ISD) as the process studied. Specifically, Tiwana looks at how organizations determine decision rights through the control and management of decisions. The focus of these decision rights is on governance and knowledge-fit within organizations. As a whole and for information studies, it is an interesting way to talk about how communities/organizations work with these governance and decision-making issues.

ABSTRACT: This study addresses the theoretically underexplored question of how fit between project governance configurations, and the knowledge of specialized information technology (IT) and client departments, influences information systems development (ISD) performance. It conceptualizes project governance configurations using two classes of project decisions rights—decision control rights and decision management rights. The paper then develops a middle-range theory of how governance-knowledge fit shapes ISD performance by influencing the effective exercise of these decision rights during the development process. Further, the two dimensions of ISD performance—efficiency and effectiveness—are shaped by different classes of project decision rights. Data from 89 projects in 89 firms strongly support the proposed ideas. Implications for theory and practice are also discussed.

Tiwana, A. (2009). Governance-Knowledge Fit in Systems Development Projects. Information Systems Research, 20(2), 180–197. doi:10.1287/isre.1070.0164


Organizational Citizenship Behavior

November 5
11am – 12 pm
2116 Hornbake

Organizational citizenship behaviors are discretionary employee behaviors that are helpful but not absolutely required by employers. While a great deal of information has been gleaned about the importance of organizational citizenship behaviors in the workplace, the nature of work has fundamentally changed; with this shift, the nature of organizational citizenship behavior for modern workers is also likely to have changed. Thus, the field is ready for an evolution in how we conceptualize organizational citizenship behavior that considers the contemporary nature of work. We carried out a multistage qualitative study designed to provide an understanding of a new generation of organizational citizenship behaviors as expressed at Google, a high-innovation, fast-paced firm, characteristic of the new form of work common to the high-technology industry and knowledge economy. Our findings indicate that some established organizational citizenship behavior concepts map onto knowledge workers’ conceptualizations of such behavior. However, other common, historical forms of organizational citizenship behavior were deemed irrelevant in this context, and a set of new behaviors that had not surfaced in previous research emerged. These findings offer insight into the kinds of behaviors necessary for success in the new world of work. We discuss the implications of this research for employee and organizational performance in the knowledge economy and introduce an initial instrument to assess these new forms of organizational citizenship behaviors.

Dekas, K., Bauer, T., Welle, B., Kurkoski, J., & Sullivan, S. (2013). Organizational Citizenship Behavior, Version 2.0: A Review and Qualitative Investigation of OCBs for Knowledge Workers at Google. The Academy of Management Perspectives. Vol. 27, No. 3, 219–237.


This is not a Boundary Object: Reflections on the Origin of a Concept

October 22
11am – 12 pm
2116 Hornbake

There are three components to boundary objects as outlined in the original 1989 article. Interpretive flexibility, the structure of informatic and work process needs and arrangements, and, finally, the dynamic between ill-structured and more tailored uses of the objects. Much of the use of the concept has concentrated on the aspect of interpretive flexibility and has often mistaken or conflated this flexibility with the process of tacking back-and-forth between the ill-structured and well-structured aspects of the arrangements. Boundary objects are not useful at just any level of scale or without full consideration of the entire model. The article discusses these aspects of the architecture of boundary objects and includes a discussion of one of the ways that boundary objects appeared as a concept in earlier work done by Star. It concludes with methodological considerations about how to study the system of boundary objects and infrastructure.

Star, S. L. (2010). This is not a boundary object: reflections on the origin of a concept. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(5), 601–617.


Distance Matters: A Study in Virtual Group Collaboration

October 8
11am – 12 pm
2116 Hornbake

Giant strides in information technology at the turn of the century may have unleashed unreachable goals. With the invention of groupware, people expect to communicate easily with each other and accomplish difficult work even though they are remotely located or rarely overlap in time. Major corporations launch global teams, expecting that technology will make “virtual collocation” possible. Federal research money encourages global science through the establishment of “collaboratories.” We review over 10 years of field and laboratory investigations of collocated and noncollocated synchronous group collaborations. In particular, we compare collocated work with remote work as it is possible today and comment on the promise of remote work tomorrow. We focus on the sociotechnical conditions required for effective distance work and bring together the results with four key concepts: common ground, coupling of work, collaboration readiness, and collaboration technology readiness. Groups with high common ground and loosely coupled work, with readiness both for collaboration and collaboration technology, have a chance at succeeding with remote work. Deviations from each of these create strain on the relationships among teammates and require changes in the work or processes of collaboration to succeed. Often they do not succeed because distance still matters.

Olson, G. M., & Olson, J. S. (2000). Distance matters. Human-Computer Interaction, 15(2), 139–178.


What Clients Don’t Get About My Profession

September 24
12pm – 1pm
2116 Hornbake

Professionals routinely have to deal with discrepancies between their self-image and public perception of their role.  On a personal level these discrepancies affect job performance, professional outlook, and state of mind.  Organizationally, the have the potential to affect resource allocation, service provision, and stakeholder evaluations.  This paper provides an overview of existing theories of image and identity theories, relates those theories to issues of professional identity, develops the idea of role-based image discrepancies, and empirically examines the strategies that professionals and professional organizations use to address them.

Vough, H., Cardador, T., Bednar, J., Dane, E., & Pratt, M. (2013). What Clients Don’t Get About My Profession: A Model of Perceived Role-Based Image Discrepancies. Academy of Management Journal. Vol. 56 No. 4 1050-1080.