Collaborative ethnography for information systems research Studying knowledge work practices and designing supportive information systems

Ronald Maier, Stefan Thalmann

Abstract


Understanding knowledge work and supporting it with information systems (ISs) are challenging tasks. Knowledge work has changed substantially recently and studies on how knowledge work is currently performed are scarce. Ethnography is the most suitable qualitative research method for studying knowledge work, yet too time-consuming, costly and unfocused for the fast changing IS domain. Moreover, results from qualitative studies need to be transformed into artefacts useful for IS requirements engineering and design. This paper proposes a procedure for collaborative ethnography to study knowledge work practices and inform IS requirements gathering and design illustrated with the case of a collaborative ethnographic study of seven organisations in four European countries performed in a large-scale international IS research and development project. The paper also critically discusses the procedure’s applicability and limitations.

Keywords


collaborative ethnography, knowledge work, work practices, IS design

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v17i2.701

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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