Design methods are rapidly being incorporated into many sectors of the economy and reshaping the ways in which we visualize and understand science and engineering. Focusing on design work at four firms in three countries, this project studies hybrid virtual teams to identify which phases of the design process can be performed virtually and which require face-to-face interaction. In addition, it will build a prototype to aid in collaborative design activities by improving trust, building a social network, and providing visualization tools. Relying on theories from communications, information science and science and technology studies, the research team will use ethnographic observation and qualitative interviews with participants in cross-cultural design collaborations that include design professionals and under-served urban populations addressing issues of social innovation and sustainability. Through this research, we will gain a better understanding of the degree to which culture, context and environment play a key role in the adoption and use of information and communication technologies to facilitate interaction and trust-building in virtual organizations.

Funding for this project is provided by NSF VOSS – National Science Foundation, Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems.