An Integrated Collaboration Environment for Various Types of Collaborative Knowledge Work

An Integrated Collaboration Environment for Various Types of Collaborative Knowledge Work

Frank Fuchs-Kittowski (Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Germany) and Eric Siegeris (Process & Solution Quality SAP Deutschland AG & Co KG, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-459-8.ch007
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In knowledge work, different types of collaboration can be distinguished. Because of close relationships between these collaboration types, it is necessary to support them together in an integrated collaboration environment. Using case studies, in this paper, the authors describe various types of collaboration practice and demonstrate the necessity of their integrated support. Based on this work, the concept of the incorporation of different types of collaboration in an integrated environment is presented. Furthermore, a prototype implementation of such an integrated environment is offered.
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In the field of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) as well as in Community research, there is a predominant differentiation between two types of collaboration: “Community” and “Team”. There is also a distinction between different types of Communities. The typical distinguishing features are orientation on a task (focus) (Botkin, 1999), size, degree of interaction, orientation during collaboration, objects of work (Borghoff, Koch, Lacher, Schlichter, & Weisser, 2001), purpose, cohesion, borders (open/closed), duration of existence (Wenger & Snyder, 2000), formalization (of formation, leadership, coordination) (McDermott, 1999; Collison, 1999), and composition (degree of expertise) (Andriessen, Huis in 't Veld, & Soekijad, 2004). However, the typical values of the characteristic features of the collaboration types are neither viewed uniformly nor defined consistently.

These distinctions are mostly used to differentiate among the collaboration types, but the aspect of their integration has hardly been taken into account so far. Therefore, a common characteristic of existing collaboration environments is that they basically support a certain type of collaboration or a certain, delimited context of application. For example, systems for team support primarily provide an electronic working environment for cooperation and functionality for coordination of activities of the team members (Teufel et al., 1995). In contrast, systems for community support contain above all functionality for communication regarding a certain subject (Wenger, 2001). However, cooperative work is not limited to a certain type of collaboration or a certain application domain (Prinz et al., 2002). Therefore, an approach is necessary that supports collaboration in different collaboration types in the work context across application borders. A collaboration environment of this type provides functionality to support and manage various types of collaboration.

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