Ethnographic studies

In the first year, MATURE conducted a series of rapid ethnographic studies. Ethnographical research, established in anthropology and social science was developed to investigate new cultures and social settings. Key characteristic of ethnography is an active participation in social settings to understand why things happen in contrast to field observation which describes what happens. The researcher tries to become a member of the community by working with people in their natural environments. Recently, ethnography has become more popular in other disciplines including computer science, particularly for designing CSCW systems, but classic ethnographical studies are too time-intensive, costly and unfocused for the fast changing world of information systems. Thus, a modified version, called collaborative rapid ethnography, is employed in MATURE in order to help revising and detailing the MATURE conceptual model and specifying requirements for PLME, OLME as well as maturing services. Data collection comprises field notes including arguments and interpretations as well as interviews including video and audio records. In the first year, the following studies have been performed:

  • Prestudies were performed by University of Innsbruck at GISA GmbH and by University of Warwick at Connexions Kent & Medway in April, May and June. At GISA, 3 researchers participated in 3 departments (software development, portal development and business intelligence consultancy). 8 persons from GISA participated in the study.
    The experiences from the prestudies were used to develop guidelines in order to inform all ethnographer teams at the first ethnographers meeting in Innsbruck in June. As a result, all MATURE ethnographers had a shared understanding of the ethnographic study and agreed on their procedure.
  • University of Warwick performed a study with 3 researches at Connexions Kent & Medway in July and August. 17 interviews were conducted and 5 in-depth cases could be described.
  • University of Paderborn performed a study with 2 researchers at SYNAXON AG in August. 5 employees were closely studied and 5 interviews were conducted.
  • FZI performed a study with 3 researchers at Städtisches Klinikum Karlsruhe in August and September. 4 persons were closely studied, one interview conducted and 7 self-descriptions received.
  • FHNW performed a study with 2 researchers at Swisscom in September and October. 2 employees were studied closely and one interview was conducted.
  • CIMNE performed a study with one researcher at Structuralia in September. Two persons were closely studied and 4 interviews were conducted.

The empirical data is now being analysed with the help of ATLAS TI, a tool focused on the analysis of qualitative data. A number of Personas, long-running knowledge maturing practices as well as richly described hot knowledge maturing areas could be identified so far. 

For an overview on initial results from the study, see the paper 

Ronald Maier, Stefan Thalmann
Informal learner styles: Individuation, interaction, in-form-ation
In: Andreas Schmidt and Graham Attwell and Simone Braun and Stefanie Lindstaedt and Ronald Maier and Eric Ras (eds.): 1st International Workshop on Learning in Enterprise 2.0 and Beyond, CEUR Workshop Proceedings vol. 383, 2008