Socio-technical architectural model of collaborative engineering design

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Collaborative engineering design may be considered a socio-technical process. However, literature suggested that the fundamental constitution of the social and technical in the collaborative engineering design process and their interrelationships are unclear. Furthermore, most the identified studies tended to focus on either the social or technical collaborative engineering design with relatively little focus on their combined effects. To address these issues, the study reported in this thesis have developed an architectural model of socio-technical CED adapting the Enhanced Entity Relationship (EER) information modelling language.The model was incrementally developed in three phases: 1). Model development, 2) model review and refinement, 3) model evaluation. Five versions of the socio-technical architectural model (STAM) of collaborative engineering design were created, each adopting methods to elicit insight from different sources. At the model development stage, the social and technical elements and their inter-relationships were induced from a literature review (i.e. resulting in STAM-1) and interviews with 28 collaborative engineering design practitioners (resulting in STAM-2).The interviews were conducted in a UK company specialising in the design and manufacture of complex technical systems within the shipbuilding industry. The model was reviewed by a group of engineering design practitioners and academics through independent focus groups (resulting in STAM-3). To enhance the social perspective, an interview was conducted with an industrial psychology academic (yielding in STAM-4) and a review on the social collaboration literature was carried out (resulting in STAM-5).The model was evaluated by industrial practitioners in three different companies, each with a different life phase and product focus. Preliminary evaluation was conducted in the first company using an interview method to assess the model’s completeness. Findings from this interview support the completeness of the model. Learning from the evaluation approach in the first company, in the second and third company, independent focus groups and questionnaires were adopted.In addition to completeness, the evaluation was conducted to assess the model’s correctness, relevance, usefulness, ease of understanding, and achievement of purpose. Findings from the two companies generally support the correctness, relevance, and usefulness of the model. The findings showed that the model may form a basis for customisation to suite a specific company’s requirement. The findings also support the general aim of the model, i.e. to provide insights into collaborative engineering design from the socio-technical perspective. Nonetheless, the findings suggest that the model was not easy to understand due to its structural complexity and terminology differences used.Finally, the study and its findings were assessed to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for future research.
Date of Award1 Oct 2016
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorAlexander Duffy (Supervisor) & Robert Whitfield (Supervisor)

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