Evaluation of Computer Systems which Support Cooperative Work (CSCW)
Computer systems which support cooperative work will undoubtedly change the way people interact with one another in a working setting. In stimulating these changes, the CSCW system will be a force for organisational change. Over the past twenty years there has been a tradition of impact research, in which investigators have studied the impact computer-based information systems implemented within organisations have had upon those organisations. The results have been many and varied. Some studies show that computer systems lead to the centralisation of power, while others show decentralisation of power. At the level of the individual job there are studies which show the empowerment of the individual and the opposite: the creation of the “white collar assembly line.” A study from 1983 demonstrated both job enrichment and deskilling from two different computer systems in the same organisation. There is widespread agreement that there can be substantial change, but very little agreement on the form that it takes. We have argued elsewhere (Eason 1988) that the reason for these diverse results is that computer systems are not deterministic, and that they can be used to achieve many different organisational effects. There is an opportunity in the design and development process to plan the organisational outcomes and to achieve the impact that is desired by the members of the organisation.
Eason K.D. and Olphert C.W. (1996) Early evaluation of the organisational implications of CSCW Systems, In Thomas P. (ed) ‘CSCW Requirements and Evaluation, Springer-Verlag, London 75-89