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Abstract

Coordination Technologies (CT) that support various aspects of organizational working are now available in commercial markets. Still, research on their organizational use has shown their success is mixed. I employ Argyris’ organizational learning theory to find out why organizations have been less successful in exploiting CT to support organizational effectiveness than their designers had hoped. Specifically, I identify two areas where explanations as well as potential solutions can be found: (1) people in organizations do not behave in the way the designers expect and (2) the designers of CT do not behave in the way they think they do. Drawing upon theory-based argumentation and a review of the literature, I argue that the benefits of CT will not be fully realized until organizations can deploy CT not only for routine communication and coordination but also for fostering on-going reflection of their working and learning practices, and for negotiating control over the rules and resources employed in these practices. Next, I focus on how organizations could design CT for use beyond routine tasks. I propose using a combination of Issue-Based Information Systems (IBIS) and Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) as a CT platform to support organizational working and learning. I evaluate this platform in light of the theory. But organizational change toward continuous learning and the use of CT to support working and learning are co-dependent and co-evolutionary. Consequently, I recognize two intertwined conditions needed to use CT successfully: (1) an organization’s ability and willingness to become aware of cognitive and structural anomalies before and during the implementation of CT, and (2) the aptitude of CT in fostering and reinforcing this awareness. Finally, I use a case study to illustrate these conditions.

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