CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

Paper Report

Title :What is Coordination Theory and How can It Help Design Cooperative Work Systems?
Authors :Thomas W. Malone and Kevin Crowston
Citation : CSCW 90 Proceedings
Reprinted in :Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work by Ronald M. Baecker

This paper talks about how coordination theory can help in the designing of Cooperative Work Systems. Coordination is the act of working together harmoniously. Coordination theory deals with how overall goals can be subdivided into actions. These actions have to be assigned to groups or to individual actors. Resources that are available for performing of an activity also has to be divided and coordination theory also deals with the division of these resources among the group workers. There are various components of coordination. They are activities, Actors and Interdependencies. The activities are required to be done to achieve the goals that are set up for the organization. The Actors are the members of the workforce. There are various kinds of interdependencies. These may be the interdependencies between groups or between the various activities that are carried out. Coordination is also the act of managing interdependencies between activities performed to achieve a goal. The different kinds of interdependencies are prerequisite, shared resource and simultaneity. Prerequisites are those where the outputs of one activity become the input of another activity. Resources have to be shared between groups and this may arise when there are activities running simultaneously which require shared resources. The different processes underlying coordination are Group Decision making, communication and perception of common objects. The group decision making is a very important feature of coordination in that it is the basis of coordination. Communication is necessary between the group workers. One point that the coordination theory does not take into consideration is how exactly conflicts of interest would affect decision making and communication.
Report prepared by :Shiva Bhanujan, Email :shivab@cs.tamu.edu 02/19/97            02/19/97