Developing a boundary object model to analyze communication interfaces : applications for system integrators
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Ricardo Valerdi and Deborah Nightingale.
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Physical information is transferred between technical systems through wires, beams, and other physical attributes, while more intangible information is typically transferred between communities of people through artifacts such as documents, e-mails, etc. This research attempts to characterize these communication interfaces better by analyzing the use of artifacts at these interfaces by means of a boundary object attribute model. Boundary objects, the metric of analysis of this thesis, are artifacts used to bridge information and knowledge gaps between different communities of practice. The US Army's Future Combat System (FCS) was chosen as a case study primarily because of its complex programmatic characteristics. The information gathered in the FCS case study was combined with knowledge from previous boundary object literature to generate an attributes model. Once developed, the boundary object attributes model was validated on the US Air Force Transformational Communications Satellite System (TSAT) program focusing specifically on the TSAT Mission Operations System (TMOS) segment of the program. Data were collected on the frequency and type of resources used to understand information and the dependencies that individuals have with each other for documented information. Furthermore, five communication artifacts were critiqued for their effectiveness as boundary objects. Statistical tests were conducted to highlight trends in resource dependencies and attributes common in effective boundary objects. An implication of this research is that the most important attributes for a boundary object are inclusivity, traceability, and synchronization. This research also found that people generally tend to rely much more on other people for information than artifacts. This introduces problems of exhausting valuable human resources and creating unnecessary bottlenecks.(cont.) A second implication of this research is that spending the extra time and effort to design artifacts with high inclusivity and freshness will add significant value to the overall system. In addition, a third implication of this research is that having the right boundary objects alone is not enough for effective collaborative interfaces. A fourth implication of this research is that designing a boundary object whose form follows its function is critical for its effectiveness. These suggestions can provide relief to a program highly taxing to its human resources and reduce transaction costs of the overall system. Furthermore, this model may be extended for the purpose of determining the roles and responsibilities of system integrators.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (p. 131-133).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aeronautics and Astronautics.