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Abstract

In this paper, we suggest a new conceptualization of coordination in the information systems (IS) domain. The conceptualization builds on neurobiological predispositions for coordinating actions. We assume that human evolution has led to the development of a neurobiological substrate that enables individuals to coordinate everyday actions. At heart, we discuss six activity modalities: contextualization, objectivation, spatialization, temporalization, stabilization, and transition. Specifically, we discuss that these modalities need to collectively function for successful coordination. To illustrate as much, we apply our conceptualization to important IS research areas, including project management and interface design. Generally, our new conceptualization holds value for coordination research on all four levels of analysis that we identified based on reviewing the IS literature (i.e., group, intra-organization, inter-organization, and IT artifact). In this way, our new approach, grounded in neurobiological findings, provides a high-level theory to explain coordination success or coordination failure and, hence, is independent from a specific level of analysis. From a practitioner’s perspective, the conceptualization provides a guideline for designing organizational interventions and IT artifacts. Because social initiatives are essential in multiple IS domains (e.g., software development, implementation of enterprise systems) and because the design of collaborative software tools is an important IS topic, this paper contributes to a fundamental phenomenon in the IS domain and does so from a new conceptual perspective.

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