Peter Mambrey & Volkmar Pipek GMD-FIT.CSCW and ProSEC, Dep. of Computer Science III, University of Bonn
Participatory approaches for the design and the introduction of computer systems are drawing increasingly more attention among researchers as well as among practitioners. While participatory design ( Schuler and Namioka 1993) might be considered as only "helpful" for the development of single-user- applications it can offer significant benefits for the design of systems in collaborative contexts, since the social and organisational aspects of collaboration call for a socio-technical view towards system development. Furthermore, Participatory Design can induce social capital into system design and reveal the actual standards of dignity and ethics of human work. Especially groupware requires Participatory Design because it relies on the mutual and remote understanding of the collaborative work process as well as the media used. In all projects of the POLIKOM research initiative ( 1994-1998, http://www.iid.de/telekooperation/), funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research, collaboration in public administration organisations has been supported with groupware applications ranging from video conferencing tools to workflow and document management systems. Using participatory design approaches, during four years the projects collected experiences with the design and the introduction of such systems.
The introduction of Information Technology (IT) has often proved to have a large impact on the organisation of work at an individual as well as an organisational level ( Grudin 1994, Pipek and Wulf 1999). When designing and introducing a new technology for collaborative work contexts, the main goal is