Group-to-Group Distance Collaboration: Examining the “Space Between”
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands
Organizations are moving towards a new type of work: group-to-group collaboration across distance, supported by technologies that connect rooms across distance into large collaboration spaces. In this study we report on distributed group-to-group collaboration in the domain of space mission design. We use the metaphor of the “space between” distant groups to describe the connections, interdependencies, and gaps that exist. To the extent that the “space between” remains wide, the risk for design errors increases. We found that different teams, who had different processes and methodologies, were able to form hybrid solutions. However, their hybrid solutions addressed mostly terms and results, and did not address the deeper methodologies that created the results. We also found that some individuals acted as information bridges across sites, representing the teams in articulation. To a large extent small groups were used for reconciling perspectives, but the majority of results were not communicated and integrated back into the larger team. We discuss the challenges that group-to-group collaboration designers face in meeting requirements for supporting these new technologies.