A grid-based assessment method of communication in engineering design

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


This thesis reports on the research undertaken that underpins the development of a method of auditing communication in collaborative engineering design. Research described in this thesis involved: (i) literature reviews in engineering design and related fields, such as psychology, management studies, sociology, and communication science, and (ii) conducting ethnographic-oriented field studies and audit-workshops in companies from Aerospace, IT and automotive industries in England and Germany. By adopting a system-theoretic perspective on communication, it is proposed that communication in design can be seen as co-ordination of behaviour. Various conceptualisations of communication are explored and, together with elicited factors influencing design communication, incorporated into a conceptual framework that informs the audit method. A method that audits design communication at team interfaces in engineering design projects has been developed, applied and tested. The aim of the method is to trigger reflection on communication in engineering design through a reflection of communication practices. The method, termed the Communication Grid Method (CGM), is based on a maturity grid approach, originally stemming from process improvement in software development and quality management. Having applied the CGM developed in this research project in workshops with industrial collaborators, gaps between the current and desired scores have been identified and discrepancies between perceptions of participants have been exposed. The results form a basis for action planning. Concluding the thesis, further application and extension possibilities for the assessment method are discussed.
Keyword: Maturity Model,Assessment,Audit,Maturity Grid,New product development,Collaboration,Communication,Systems theory,Engineering Design
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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