More and more companies today are installing computer networks that connect their employees to each other and to other companies. But how can companies take advantage of these increasingly powerful computer networks? Can these new networks help companies organize themselves more productively and coordinate more effectively with their customers and suppliers? This tutorial describes a new interdisciplinary perspective for approaching these problems. This new research perspective, called coordination theoty, focuses on the interdisciplinary study of coordination. It uses and extends ideas about coordination from disciplines such as computer science, organization theory, operations research, economics, linguistics, and psychology. A key tenet of this approach is that many of the most important uses of computers (today and in the future) are not just for computing things, but for coordinating people's activities. Therefore, understanding the costs, benefits, and other characteristics of different kinds of coordination is critical for understanding how information technology can help people organize their activities in new ways. As a step in this direction, the tutorial will include a framework for analyzing alternative forms of coordination in terms of actors performing interdependent activities that achieve goals. A major section of the tutorial will summarize recent applications of coordination theory in understanding information technology and organizations. For example, we will see how simple ideas about the costs of coordination can help make predictions about "electronic markets," "networked organizations," and "value-adding partnerships." We will also see how ideas about coordination have helped researchers develop new tools to support people making group decisions, managing complex projects, and dealing with information overload. The final section of the tutorial will suggest elements of a research agenda for this new area. 415
Malone, Tom, "COORDINATION THEORY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES ORGANIZATIONS, AND GROUP WOkK" (1991). ICIS 1991 Proceedings. 43.