A Comparative Analysis of E-Collaboration Research Funding in the European Union and the United States

A Comparative Analysis of E-Collaboration Research Funding in the European Union and the United States

Ned Kock (Texas A&M International University, USA) and Pedro Antunes (University of Lisboa, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-110-0.ch004
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Much of the funding for research and development initiatives in the area of e-collaboration comes from government agencies in various countries. Government funding of e-collaboration research in the European Union (EU) and the United States (U.S.), in particular, seems to be experiencing steady growth in recent years. In the EU, a key initiative to promote governmental investment in e-collaboration research is the Collaboration@Work initiative. This initiative is one of the EU’s Information Society Technologies Directorate General’s main priorities. In the U.S., government investment in e-collaboration research is channeled through several government branches and organizations, notably the National Science Foundation. There are key differences in the approaches used for government funding of e-collaboration research in the EU and U.S. Among other differences, the EU model appears to foster research that is aligned with the action research tradition, whereas the U.S. model places emphasis on research that is better aligned with the experimental research tradition.
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E-Collaboration Versus Ict Research

E-collaboration can be defined as collaboration among individuals engaged in a common task using electronic technologies. As such, e-collaboration can be seen as an “umbrella” term that can be used to refer to a range of fields of research, such as those of computer-mediated communication, computer-supported cooperative work, and group support systems (Kock, 2005; 2008).

Some examples of e-collaboration technologies are e-mail, group decision support systems, instant messaging, web-based bulletin boards, teleconferencing suites, and supply-chain management systems. E-mail, arguably one of the most widely used computer applications today, is an e-collaboration technology aimed at supporting fast and relatively simple forms of communication. Certain e-collaboration technologies are more geared at supporting complex communication and decision making, such as group decision support systems. Other e-collaboration technologies, such as supply-chain management systems, are aimed at supporting the flow of information among various departments engaged in the production and delivery of goods and services.

There are many areas of ICT that are not seen as directly related to e-collaboration. Some examples are database and telecommunications technologies. There is a great deal of research being conducted aimed at the development of new database technologies. The same is true for telecommunications technologies. Incidentally, both database and telecommunications technologies are necessary for the implementation of e-collaboration technologies.

Nevertheless, research on e-collaboration has been steadily increasing in importance recently. Evidence of this, as recently as 2005, comes from two key publication initiatives. One is the establishment of a new journal dedicated to e-collaboration research, the International Journal of e-Collaboration (Kock, 2005). The other initiative is the publication the Special Issue on Expanding the Boundaries of E-Collaboration of the prestigious journal IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (Kock & Nosek, 2005).

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