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Creation of a Collaborative Environment for Innovation: The Effect of a Simulation Tool's Development and Use

Innovation through Collaboration

ISBN: 978-0-76231-331-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-430-0

Publication date: 16 October 2006


The aim of this chapter is to analyse and to define the role and opportunities offered by the adoption of a new ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tool within an organization, focusing attention on internal collaborative processes that have been induced by the development and use of the new tool. As noted by some authors, ICT tools may create a virtual meeting place where individuals can engage in dialogue and collaboration. However, other authors argue that technology could reduce direct involvement, social interaction, collaboration and reflective conversations that traditionally give rise to knowledge processes and thus to innovation processes inside the organizations. Nevertheless, some research contributions show that it is not an ICT tool itself that provides positive or negative effects on organizations, but how the tool is used in conjunction with complementary human resources. These contributions avoid technological determinism by stressing contingency and by coupling human design intent and activity with the disposition of actors inside organizations.

In order to fulfil the aim of the chapter, a study was carried out in a leading firm in the automotive industry, till now involved in a project aimed at implementing a new simulation tool for the assembly process. The evidence from the case seems to suggest that the development and use of the simulation tool activated the social interactions and collaborations that enacted innovation processes. The simulation tool seemed to facilitate a productive dialogue among the different departments and a deeper understanding of the different challenges involved. The development of the simulation “forced” experts of different departments to meet and to keep the focus on salient aspects. The simulation acted as a boundary object. The development of this boundary object was un-intentional but it is clear that the simulation contributed to the formation of a community of collaborators.

It is worth noting that this was not the result of the simulation tool itself but rather the result of management actions aimed at making sense of the whole project, supporting the initiative and thus motivating users.


Longhitano, L. and Testa, S. (2006), "Creation of a Collaborative Environment for Innovation: The Effect of a Simulation Tool's Development and Use", Beyerlein, M.M., Beyerlein, S.T. and Kennedy, F.A. (Ed.) Innovation through Collaboration (Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 227-253.



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