Project networks span a multiplicity of organizational boundaries requiring information systems to integrate across boundaries. Recent advancements in parametric 3-D CAD modeling tools have created challenges for organizations implementing such tools. In this research, we are developing strategies to improve implementation of boundary spanning information systems and developing tools to support and understand the virtualization of the engineering workforce in globally distributed networks of engineers.

PROJECT #1 – Construction Industry Institute #RT326

The engineering and construction industry is increasingly utilizing geographically distributed, virtual teams to execute project work. This is driven by industry globalization, advancements in virtual team tools, and the need to remain competitive, among other reasons. Yet, organizations are reporting varying degrees of virtual team success. In this research we are first determining the industry’s current and recent past use of technology, processes, procedures and policies for virtual teamwork. Then, we are determining why teams have had varying degrees of success with virtual teams. Finally, we are develop a decision-making and implementation tool that aims to help engineering and construction organizations to maximize virtual team performance.

PROJECT #2 – National Science Foundation #1212673 (formerly #0943069)

Researching virtual organizations challenges researchers to adapt to new constraints and provides possibilities to exploit new opportunities. In studying the organizational implications of executing complex design work in virtual environments, we found that traditional organizational research methodologies were time consuming, often difficult to implement, and failed to exploit the information richness of the virtual environment. This research entails: (1) CyberGRID Net – developing a research data collection and analysis tool integrated into an existing global virtual engineering team working environment, and (2) CyberGRID Networks – utilizing that tool to develop fundamental insights into how globally distributed engineering teams enact complex design work together and with affordances in the virtual environment.

Acknowledgment and Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1212673 (formerly 0943069). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

PROJECT #3 – Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Fellowship Research

This research fills a gap in understanding of how intercultural networks of firms originating from the same specialization (e.g., engineering designers) navigate knowledge system exchanges through the interactive use of boundary objects. This central question examined in this research is how engineering design firms in cross-cultural, global project networks exchange, develop and resolve conflicts in knowledge systems through the use of intermediate boundary objects. We focus specifically on how a 3D CAD integrated information system is used to resolve knowledge system conflicts that emerge during knowledge exchanges. The findings are elucidating strategies that can help maintain the innovative edge of the U.S. engineering workforce.

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FUNDING

Construction Industry Institute #RT326
Amount: $172,998
Duration: 2014 – 2016
Title: Maximizing the Performance of Virtual Teams in the Engineering and Construction Industry

National Science Foundation #1212673 (formerly #0943069)
Amount: $316,584
Duration: 2009 – 2014
Title: CyberGRID Networks

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship
Amount: $45,000
Duration: 2009 – 2013
Title: Understanding the Role of Boundary Objects in Resolving Knowledge System Conflicts

COLLABORATORS

FACULTY

Pauli Alin
Post-doctoral Researcher, Helsinki University of Technology

Phil Bernstein
Professor, Yale University

Semra Comu
Assistant Professor, Bogazici University

Carrie Sturts Dossick
Professor, University of Washington

Timo Hartmann
Professor, University of Twente

Josh Iorio
Post-doctoral Researcher, Virginia Tech

Amy Javernick-Will
Assistant Professor, University of Colorado-Boulder

Ashwin Mahalingam
Professor, Indian Institute of Technology – Madras

Riitta Smeds
Professor, Helsinki University of Technology

STUDENTS

Neda Mohammadi
PhD Student, Virginia Tech