A Model for Culturally Adaptive Policy Management in Ad Hoc Collaborative Contexts

A Model for Culturally Adaptive Policy Management in Ad Hoc Collaborative Contexts

John Karat (IBM TJ Watson Research, USA), Winston Sieck (Applied Research Associates, USA), Timothy J. Norman (University of Aberdeen, UK), Clare-Marie Karat (IBM TJ Watson Research, USA), Carolyn Brodie (IBM TJ Watson Research, USA), Louise Rasmussen (Applied Research Associates, USA) and Katia Sycara (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-855-5.ch009
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In this chapter, the authors consider an approach to advancing the value of context-sensitive policy management technology for collaborative mission planning and execution through integration of algorithms based on cultural models and collaborative decision making. Three research teams collaborated to leverage their research frameworks and results in policy lifecycle management, cultural analysis, and decision support in this effort. The chapter describes the three technical areas, and the results of a theoretical analysis of the potential value of their integration in a new perspective, combined with a set of research questions that might be addressed in further inquiry in this new area. The theoretical work identifies opportunities for addressing challenging issues in policy, culture, and collaborative decision making. The authors conclude with a view of future research that might provide a breakthrough in this intersection of disciplines and lead to the creation of a culturally aware policy management system for collaborative activities.
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Collaborative teams are increasingly called on for military and non-military operations with minimal lead time. Such coalitions are increasingly composed of different partners that need to form ad hoc teams to fulfill the mission (e.g. in Iraq, for one mission US soldiers are working with British, Swedish and Iraqi personnel, in another mission British soldiers are working with Italian and Australian coalition forces). These diverse mission teams operate with different operational policies in many domains of coalition activities. Currently, for each mission, each coalition partner “inherits” the overall policies of his/her military that are not mission-specific. This may result in having policies that are more restrictive than they need to be. The restrictive policies, in turn, can lead to the possibility of impeding effective collaborative planning and execution. Since coalition teams operate in an ad hoc manner and may not have co-trained, there is a need for rapid adaptation, including arriving at ways to work effectively despite the differences in policies. This highlights a need for a policy authoring and management infrastructure that enables (a) rapid (and possibly automated) translation of high level policies into operational ones, (b) rapid policy customization, given a particular mission and cultural background of the participants, and (c) detection of policy conflicts and suggested policy reconciliation along with support for policy negotiation activities. Additionally, during mission planning and execution, there is a need for automated support of the coalition team members to enable them to collaborate effectively despite the cultural and policy differences.

In this ad hoc collaborative context, our policy management model begins with an assumption that military policy analysts develop and refine policies that begin with high-level specifications and are transformed into operational policies that govern the way coalition systems behave in the specific mission context. Such policies might include constraints or guidance on the appropriate use and sharing of physical and information resources involved in a mission. In this research we are interested in how context-sensitive support for policy authoring, analysis, and execution might be provided. For example, in a collaborative context involving members with known cultural differences, policy management technology might include components which review and advise on policy content with respect to the known cultural differences. With the variety of partners involved in coalition operations, cultural issues can be expected to influence how policies are developed and analyzed, as well as the relative acceptability of policy specifications among coalition partners. As an example, a culturally aware policy management system might offer guidance to policy authors which suggested how information sharing policy typically relates to organizational structure in different groups impacted by a policy. This information might be included in data structures describing the organizations (e.g., rank or mission role descriptions). Such guidance might be provided at the time policies are authored, or might be incorporated into mechanisms which facilitate policy negotiation or conflict resolution. Similarly, the nature of appropriate support for decision making in the field can be influenced by many elements of the mission context. Situational context (e.g., various emergency situations), might call for additional policies to address circumstances calling for exceptional collaboration. A model of such collaboration could be used in guiding authoring of appropriate policy and enforcement of it in the field. For example, access to certain sensor information might be granted to a coalition team under enemy fire by another team member. Describing the context in which such exception policies might be active would be a way to incorporate collaboration and policy management.

To enable this vision of culturally adaptive policy planning to be realized, there is a need for the integration of a number of research areas. In this chapter, we report on a theoretical analysis conducted by the group of researchers to examine the research frameworks and results to date in three related arenas and consider the potential to integrate the areas in a unifying multidisciplinary perspective. As a part of the analysis, the team created a set of core research questions from which hypotheses could be defined to test the validity of the theorized integrated approach to policy management systems that take culture and collaborative decision making into account. Finally, we discuss high level ideas for future research in this multifaceted domain.

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