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A Coordination-Theoretic Approach to Understanding Process Differences


  • Klein, Mark
  • Poltrock, Steven
  • Handel, Mark


Supporting human collaboration is challenging partly because of variability in how people work. Even within a single organization, there can be many variants of processes which have the same purpose. When distinct organizations must work together, the differences can be especially large, baffling and disruptive. Coordination theory provides a method and vocabulary for modeling complex collaborative activities in a way that makes both the similarities and differences between them more visible. We illustrate this, in this paper, by analyzing three engineering change management processes and demonstrating how our method compactly highlights the substantial commonalities and precise differences between what are on first glance are extremely divergent approaches.

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  • Klein, Mark & Poltrock, Steven & Handel, Mark, 2007. "A Coordination-Theoretic Approach to Understanding Process Differences," Working papers 37155, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:37155

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