Cooperative design: Prospects for CSCW in design

Kjeld Schmidt

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    In the contemporary world, engineers and designers face huge challenges as they shift towards novel organizational concepts such as ‘concurrent engineering’ in order to manage increasing product diversity so as to satisfy customer demands while trying to accelerate the design process to deal with the competitive realities of a global market and decreasing product life cycles. In this environment, the coordination and integration of the myriads of interdependent and yet distributed and concurrent design activities becomes enormously complex. It thus seems as if CSCW technologies may be indispensable if concurrent engineering is to succeed. On the basis of ethnographic studies of cooperative design, the paper attempts to characterize cooperative work in the domain of design and to outline a set of crucial research problems to be addressed if CSCW is to help engineers and de-signers meet the challenges they are facing. On one hand, designers need highly flexible ‘coordination mecha-nisms’ that can support horizontal coordination of large-scale distributed design projects, and on the other hand design organizations require versatile and ubiquitous infrastructures to be able to manage their ‘common informa-tion spaces’ without sacrificing the critical adaptivity and concurrency.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Design Sciences and Technology Journal
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)5-18
    Publication statusPublished - 1998

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