Guohua Bai (Ph.D. Guest Professor)



My reading notes



Digest of Participatory Design Approach

Part 1;  Part 2; Part 3


Noe, R. A. and Wilk, S. L. (1993)

Investigation of the factors that influence employees´ Participation in Development Activities

Journal of applied Psychology, Vol.78. No.2, 291-302

A model hypothesized that motivation to learn, perception of benefit, and work environment perceptions had significant unique effects on development activity.

Conceptual Model Of Development Activity:

Studies have shown that position, job tenure, and organization tenure(defined as Organizational characteristics) have a significant relation with development activity. self-efficacy includes employees´ beliefs that they can cope with challenging situations. Work environment characteristics: Two aspects-social support and situation constraints-influence employees´ participation in development activity.

The decision to participate in development activities is likely influenced by employees´s beliefs that deveopment activity results in favorable outcomes (e.g., increased chances for promotion, salary increased, and recognition by managers or peers).

We believe that motivation to learn, motivation to transfer and evaluation of previous development experience have a direct effect on employees´participation in development activities.

Bjerknes, G., Ehn, P., and Kyng,M.(Eds.)(1987)

Computer and Democracy: A scandinavian challenge.

Gower, Brookfield, VT:1987.

Traditionally democratic values have only marginally been considered in the design process. The only values that, in practice, have only been taken into account have been those concerning technical and economic factors. But the Socio-techninical approach which began in England by Enid Mumford, and the collective resource approach developed in scandinavia by Pelle Ehn and Morten Kyng will chalenge this design tradition. The later is the result of former when it is applied in Scandinavian as seen from a trade union´s point of view as an political aspect in work democracy. But where the socio technical approach is based on consensus and common interests adopting an organic perspective on organizations, the PD approach points at conflicting interests and the importance of developing collective resources in the process of democratization.

Heinz klein and Roy Alvarez pointed out " The social climate and political pressures in the U.S. are such that democratic participation would be perceived as socialist interference into busines affairs; this is neither socially acceptable, nor is it expected by the workers".

Andrew Friedman and Dominic Cornford pointed out that the increasing concern with user participation in the design process as an international phenomenon, not necessarily as an indication of industrial democracy, but as one of many managerial strategies for meeting "increasingly vociferious and sophisticated user demands." The shift from Tayloristic "direct control" strategies to more "responsible autonomy" strategies, taking more advantage of human flexibility and creativity.

(The trade unions played an mode role in formulating requirements to the future system, since they are sopposed best to capture and draw upon the employees´ knowledge and experience of work and work environment. Unions as representative of real user in participation, not user directly communicate, is still a wall between a real needed system of user and the design process (one challenge of Feedback learning strategy - is a promising approach to support more democratic design and use of new technology. one important condition for this approach is to enhance the designer´s interest in and qualifications for dealing with this kind of objectives for technical and organizational development. another important aspect is to provide good opportunities for qualification of workers in different branches.

The socio-technical system design method, as represented in the early seventies in England, was regarded as anti-trad-union and even anti-democratic. And no matter how efficient the socio-technical design method was, neither practical experience in Scandinavia nor the theoretical approach to systems deign seemed to have much to do with participation and inductrial democracy.

A challeng to Design:

Design of computer support is design of (conditions for ) labour processes. The user is experinced in the application domain, and know how to play the "language games" in the work or use situation. Similarly designers are experienced in the "language games" of systemss design. The way we learn to practice new "language games" is by participating in them and by their "family resemblance" with other language games we are familiar with. Both aspects are important. Design should be done with users, neither for nor by them. Mutual learning should be an important part of the work in a design group, which is not merely a visiting work-place or research laboratories (as in Utopia), it should be more design-oriented activities. A vehicle for communication with the users was drastically improved compared with the traditional formalized description methods ranging from scenarios to data flow.

Design by doing is to draw on their tacit knowledge, to consider the labour process not only as an information process and to consider not only describable aspects of the labour processes and computer support. This implies that users can articulate their demands and wishes in a concrete way by actually doing simulated work. Prototyping tools can do this.

Friedman, A. and Cornford, D. (1987)

Strategies for Meeting User Demands: an international perspective

Gower, Brookfield, VT:1987

What seems clear is that increasing concern with user involvement in computer based system development is an international phenomenon. Nevertheless, greater user involvement is only one strategy for dealing with a general proble facing system developer. This is the problem of meeting increasingly vociferous and sophisticated user demands.

Three background factors affect the user involvement: First, how relation between computer departments and computer users been affected by the massive technological changes in the past 30 years? Second, how have national economic and political conditions, (labour market conditions in particular) affected employee aspirations and strategies since the Second World War? finally, how have management strategies toward computer specialists developed, particularly since the mid-1960´s. All of the three aspects have affected social proces.

Technological influences: the rapid decline in hardware costs and the rise in hardware capacity per unit cost. Softare system, especially AI, communication, multimedia application. Users demands of more flexibility in products have been greatly stimulated. The increased concern of users need not only in general , but in specific (semi-structured), not only for higher levels of managmer, but also shop floor or lower level workers. The wide spread of cheap Personal computer has contributed to rising user demands. It also increases a fear that microcomputers in user departments will make the computer department redundant.

National economic and political conditions: A period of low unemployment from the end of the 1930´s stimulated a rise in worker strength symbolised both by rising trade union memberhip and greater political representation of worker interests in national and local government through Social Democratic and Labour Parties. As part of this general trend, employee representatives became more concerned with the introduction of new technology and particuly new computer based technology.

Managment strategies toward computer specialists: During the 1980´s, increasing user demands have partly been stimulated by inadequate computer department supply. The problem is not simply that computer departent have not grown fast enough yo meet an increasing volume of demands, or that user have not been involved in the system development process. The problem has also been an inability of computer departments to react quickly to changing demands with the staff they already have. This is du to largely to increasingly inapproate Direct Control Strategie pursued within computerdepartment.

When computers are applied to unstructured problems which will interact more intimately with relatively demanding and politically powerful users; when programming development can be carried out interactively; and when user environments are changing rapidly, Direct Control strategies within computer departments can become the major reason for system faliurs. What is needed are responsible autonomy strategies.

When two lovers fall out because the needs and desires of one of them have changed drastically, one response of the couple is to improve communication between them. but all problems cannot be solved by better communication or changing partners. Changing one´s own attitudes and meeting difficult situation with new responses may be necessary.

Ives and Olsen (1984) rate the following methods for user involvement according to the degree of user influence they imply (p.590):

1. Involvement by weak control: Users having "sign-off" responsibility at each stage of the system development process.

2. Involvement by doing control: Users as designer team member or as the official "liaison" with the information systems development group.

3. Involvement by strong control. Users pay directly fo new development out of their own budgets or the user´s overall organisational performance evaluation is dependent on the outcome of the development work.

User Based programming: this strategy is intended to provide users with a system which they can directly tailor to their own needs by using some form of programming syntax independently of the computer department.

Report From The Conference Group On Management Of Systems Development (1987) Management Of System Development And Use
Gower, Brookfield, VT:1987.

One should be precise in answering the question "who is the user?" The concept of "user" is mainly used for theoretical work. In real life it may be more useful to talk about the actural groups of actors. Historicall "user" means the user of a tool. Acturally tools exist at different levels with different distances from the end user.

Floyd, C. (1987)

Outline of a Paradigm Change in Software Engineering

in Computer and Democracy. Gower, Brookfield, PP191-210

The product-oriented persåective regards software as a product standing on its own, consisting of a set of programs and related defining texts. In doing so, the product-oriented perspective abtracts from the characteristics of the given base machine and consider the ysage context of the product to be fixed and well understood, thus allowing software requirement to be determined in advance.

The "process-oriented" perspective, on the other hand, views software in connection with human learning, work and communication, taking place in an evolving world with changing needs. Processs of work, learning, and communication occur both in systems design and use. From the process-oriented" perspective, the actual product is percived aas emerging from totality of interleaved process of analysis, design, implementation, evaluation and feedback, carried out by different group of people involved in systems development in various roles. Both the functionality of the product and its quality as experienced by the users are held to be deeply influenced by the way in which these process are carried out.

The paradigm change from the product-oriented approach to process-oriented approach does not mean to dropp the product-oriented approach, although its underlying world view had to be given up as a ruling paradigm in systems development, it remains validity in the context which it was applied (less change, well structure).

The paradigm change does not mean rejecting technology, but finding ways to a more human-oriented technology.

Greenbaum, Joan & Kyng, Morten (1991)

Design at Wrok: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems

LEA, Hillsadle, New Jersey

* Computer sytems that are created for the workplace need to be designed with full participation from the users.

* When computer systems are brought into work place, they should enhance workplace skills rather than degrade or rationalize them.

* computer system are tools, and need to be designed to be under the control of the people using them. They should support work activities, not make them more rigid or rationalized.

* The design process is a political one and includes conflicts at almost every step of the way.

* The design process highlights the issue of how computer are used in the context of work organization. What's gone wrong?

Edward Yourdon defines his deign strategy as one "that break large complex problems into smaller less complex problems and then decomposes each of thee smaller problems into even smaller problems, until the original problem has been expressed as some combination of many small solvable problems" (p61). The belief in this way (rationalistic traditions) of doing things is so strongly ingrained in our thinking that it pervades both the way we ask questions and the questions we ask.

Russell Ackoff : "We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem... The problems we select for solution and the way we formulate them depends more on our philosophy and world view than on our science and technology"(p8).

As Kuhn (1970) highlights in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, paradigm shifts evolve through contradiction over time.

Capitalism increasingly took skill away from workers and brought it more and more within the hands of management. This process, called deskilling, intensified diviion of labor and resulted in work processes that were extensively routinized (Harry Braverman, 1974). The act of dividing labor and deskilling workers was dehumanizing.

Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores(1985) emphasis on the importance of action and on the difficulty of articulating assumptions grounded our work in the importance of the action-based techniques in design.

Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus in Mind over Machine (1986) : skill and expert performance cannot be captured as a set of formal rules.

1986 in austin, texas First biannual conference on CSCW.

1989 in England, First European Conference CSCW (EC-CSCW)

1990 in Seattle, Whshington First Participatory Design Conference (PDC) USA although they liked the Scandinavian approach, they feared that it wasn't applicable in the United States because of weak trade-union movement. (Other difference see Grudin, 1990).

Robinson, M. (1991)

Electronic Mail and Post Modern Organization ...

in Precedings of Human Jobs and Computer Interface Conference, University of Tampere, Finland, PP 419-439

The failure to use functions such as electronic calendars, project tracking, reminders, directories, and expense tracking, is explained by multiple factors. Isolated tools require extra work to transfer control or data; some tools require them to expend resources for activities they did not normally carry out, or carried out only infrequently; some tools creat inequality between those doing the work and those benfiting from it. In addition, there can be a lack of commitment from management: unclear initial expectations; a lack of training, or only mechnical "what keys to push" training; and a "plateau of competence"-- lack of interest in features or functions that were not immediately useful.

The success of email because of it was analagous to, but better than, what they did without groupware tools. Email as an improvement over the old way.

The Problematic of Email (1): Contradiction of flexible social formation supported by electronic communication and the traditional labor dicipline and organizational control.

These electronic social formations represent new source of inductrial conflict, raising questions about convertional relationships of space and time to indutrial discipline and control (Perin,1989)

"There is a potential contradiction between principles of "self- management" and "self-regulation" and the "hierarchical and authoritarian principles associated with organization work"

The Problematic of Email (2): Contradiction of "organization homeostasis" vs. human intervention.

...holds its own organizational closure as the invariant in its homeostasis, and is impervious to human intervention,.. "A man-made organization in the grip of such a metaprocess may be perceived as "having a mind of its own" in a literal sense. It may continue to preserve itself, but it may do so at great cost to the humans and the organizations. (Robb, 1989)"

Schmidt defines four types of cooperations:

Augmentative cooperation (cooperation of summon?) "the limited mechanical and information processing capabilities of human individuals are compnsated by means of cooperation. By aggregating their capacities, mulitple individuals can perform a task that would have been absolutely impossible to each and eevery one of them individully. As an ensemble they may, for instance, be able to remove a stone that one inf´dividual could not move iota."

Combinative coopeation: (cooperation among labor divisions?) the division of labour, by reducing every man's business to one simple operation, and by making this operation the sole employment of his life, necessarily increases very much the dexterity of the workman. debatative cooperation (cooperative decision making in complex setting, integrate conceptul model and domain knowledge ) (there is not the forth in this paper)

Robinson (the author) define that those above cooperation belong to, he called, functional cooperation which means levels and types of functional ingridents in work process. Further more, he defined : constitutional cooperation, associative cooperation, and social cooperation.

Constitutional cooperation exemplified in the worldwide cooperative movement, and it focuses both on consumer control of retail distribution, and on worker owenership and control of enterprises.

Associative cooperation is politically voluntary association, it may not follow a predetermined agenda, but "it can and often does rise to an autonmous agenda".

Social cooperation is a process whereby multiple agendas are reconciled.

"Electronical infrastructures mean the inolvement is not delimited by time or place. It is possible (and common) to ba 'at work' and 'on the network' at the same time." (Robinson, p435).

Mumford, K. and Henshall, D. (1979) (1991)

Participative Approach to Computer system Design.

Associated Business Press, London.

Two objectives of PD as to 1) increase the satisfaction of staff, and 2) increase their work efficiency . They are related.

There is increasing recognition that traditional ideas of how to improve efficiency and reduce costs through breaking work up into mall units and imposing tight external controls are now producing work so routine that the result is an alienated labour force. A recognition of thr poor "fit" between the modern worker´s needs in work, particularly his desire for stimulus and interest, and the routine reality of most shop floors and offices has led to an interest on the part of management and trade unions in the design of jobs. Industry democracy is today a subject of lively discustion. Technology, particularly computer technology has been forging ahead at considerable speed, bringing in its train major changes to the work situation. A great many of these technlogical innovations have been designed with little thought for their human consequences and introduced with little attempt to involve or consult with the employees who will be using them.

Three levels of participation:

Consultative participation: leaves the bulk of decisions on how a new work system shall be designed and jobs structured with the traditional systems design group.

Representative participation: requires a higher level of involvement from the staff of a user department.

consensus participation takes the democratic approach to a higher level again by attempting to involve all staff in the user department continuously throughout the system dessign process.

The socio-technical approach was originally developed by the Tavistock Institute in Great Britain. It incorporates a logical analysis of the technical components of work systems and the grouping of these into "unit operation". Unit operation are logically integrated set of tasks, one set being seperated from the next by a change of state in the work processes. Another important objective is to improve work systems by identifying and analysing system variances. A variance is defined as a tendency for a work system to deviate from a desired specification.

Conditions for PD approach: No-one must suffer and as many employees as possible should gain from the changes. Some enlightened managments will recognise that successful change requires the identification and resolution of conflicts of interest and may also perceive that such conflicts of interest are nott solely between management and subordinates but can occur between members of different grades of functions who perceive a change in relationship as jeopardising their interests versus those of another group.

PD approach is one way of bringing about differences and conflicts of interest into the open may produce a series stressful relationships which managment may believe a more traditional approach would have avoided. The argument of PD takes conflict in change: All change involves some conflicts of interest. To be resolved, these conflicts need to be recognized, brought out into th open, negotiated and a solution arrived at which largely meet the interest of all parties in the solution. There is a ethic perspective of PD which argues that group who are going to be affected by the change should have an opportunity of determinig their own destiny. If this opportunity is not provided, then those on the reciving end of change run the risk of becoming the victims, often through thoughtlessness or lack of imagination rather than deliberate ill will, of those who creat the change.

Sackman harold (1983)

Problems and promise of Participative Information Systems design

Systems Design for, with, and by the Users. North-Holland publishing Company, IFIP (1983), Pp 339- 348

the traditional approach to information sysytems design, particularly as practiced in the U.S.A., is controlled by management, and is technically designed and implemented by systems analyst, engineers and programmers, with uers and clients playing a largely unsystematic, passive, reactive role in supplying background "end-user" information, and then by only when asked by the "professionals." result: Computer-professional oriented systems, not user-oriented systems, in spite of all the protestations to the contrary made by information system vendors and by computer professionals.

The question arises, should uses play a co-equal role with managers and computer professionals in information system design ? This question is not as simple as it seems. It runs deep into the culture and philosophical value-system of labor/management relations of each country. (e.g, USA as one extreme of the spectrum, scandinavian countries as another)

the role of the users and computers professionals are significantly changed in participative system design. The user is required to become more computer literate and more aware of the total organizational information flow. Systems analysts and programers lose some of their traditional control over the technical design decisions and share technical control with users. They are required to communicate more extensively with all parties, and to act as relatively neutral technical facilitators among conflicting parties of system hardware, software and communications. In short, commputer professionals have an expanded role, including all the technical responsibilities of the traditional approach, plus new psychological, political, educational, and coordination skills.

Disconcerting and ominous scene about vendors (profits, short-range market ), management (abdicate responsibility for system design, info. as power leads conflicts), computer professionals (subvert the systems development process with their narrow sectarian concerns- enginering) and the users (computer illiteracy).

public objectives, user objective, and supplier objectives are listed.

priority of the public interest: at the national level, the public interest should have the highest priority in information system development. The public stakes are the biggest and most important of all form the point of view of the cconomy, quality of working life, the individual and organizational effectiveness. Computer literacy: an illiterate population can neither use nor appreciate computer-based information systems. Lifelong computer literacy is needed throughout school and working years to meet this objective. problems with participative design:

trust, election vs. selection, conflict of interest, stress, communication, role of coputer profesionals, rapidly changing technology, longer time to design system, more man-hours, higher initial cost, conservative solution.

<----- Get Part 2 of Digest  Return to Reading Notes