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From the social to the systematic

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Large design and manufacturing projects are conducted in elaborate settings. Interdependent specialists work together, building complex systems. A substantial part of their daily work concerns the coordination of distributed work. This paper reports from a field study at Foss Electric, a Danish manufacturing company, where the development of an instrument for testing the quality of raw milk was studied. Scheduled and informal project meetings together with paper-based coordination systems were the primary means of managing the complexity of coordinating work within the project. This paper investigates the origination, use, and function of these coordination mechanisms applying a Coordination Mechanism perspective (Schmidt and Simone, 1996). We argue that the complexity of coordinating distributed work in large design projects result in the adoption of coordination systems. These systems formalize aspects of coordination work through artifacts, procedures for use and conventions.

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