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CSCW Workshop: Supporting Distributed Team Work

Thomas Finholt, James Herbsleb, Gary Olson, Judy Olson, Anita Sarma, Bhargav Sriprakash, Gina Venolia, and Patrick Wagstrom


Geographically distributed teams and virtual organizations are commonplace today. However, coordination in such settings is problematic, especially for tasks that involve closely-coupled work. Despite extensive research in coordination in distributed teams, the common wisdom is that highly interdependent tasks benefit greatly from collocation. However, collocation may be impractical in corporations or open production systems (e.g., open-source software, Wikipedia). Evidence suggests that radical collocation, i.e. an open-plan team room, can further aid collaboration. We lack a detailed understanding of fine-grained task dependencies that occur in closely coupled work and the mechanisms by which radical collocation can moderate those effects. Consequently, there exist no alternatives to collocation to avoid coordination breakdowns when tasks are tightly linked. This workshop seeks to understand the barriers and solutions for closely-coupled work by fully- and partially-distributed teams and to chart solutions motivated by studies of collocation and radical collocation.


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