The objective of this article is to categorize problems of developing collective meaning in e-collaborating groups, and to develop a theoretical analysis of these cases. We draw on a variety of qualitative studies from the areas of human factors, information systems, and organization studies that all focus on e-collaborating groups having difficulty to develop collective meaning. The article distinguishes problems of collective meaning in terms of expression and reflexivity. Next, an evolutionary perspective is developed that is used for analyzing these two categories. The article concludes with future trends relevant for academics and practitioners working in this area.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Collective Meaning: The situated, temporary state of mutual understanding between people who share an experience, history or practice.
E-Collaborating Group: Individuals charged with a collective task for which they rely on mostly on information technology tools.
Negotiated Order: Coherence of understandings and actions resulting from a process of mutual adjustment and interpreted as a process or outcome.
Collective Task: A task that requires contributions of more than one individual and must be accomplished in a limited period of time.
Mediating Technologies: Information processing artifacts that support individual and collective work processes.
Group: A number of individuals responsible for the joint completion of a task that exceeds their individual capabilities.
Coordination: The management of task dependencies (Crowston, 1996), implying the meaningful interrelating of activities.