Using Visual Representations as Boundary Objects to Resolve Conflict in Collaborative Model-Building Approaches
Black, Laura J.
Andersen, David F.
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In the context of facilitated, technology-supported efforts to resolve complex problems, we recognize the critical role that visual representations can play in both the content and process of collaboration. How these representations are wielded by facilitators and interpreted by participants determines whether they help resolve conflicts or close down conversations. We identify three key attributes of scripted problem-solving facilitation, as well as three key attributes of visual representations that function as boundary objects, to gain insights into pivotal experiences when group problem-solving efforts turned from collaboration to conflict and vice versa. We draw on three vignettes from facilitated group problem solving to illustrate how these attributes can be deployed to move conflict-mired conversations into collaborative discussions. This paper contributes to collaborative problem solving by using the formal sociological theory of boundary objects to offer a deeper, richer understanding of successes and shortcomings of visual representations as drivers of conflict resolution in model-building approaches.
Black, Laura J., and David F. Andersen. “Using Visual Representations as Boundary Objects to Resolve Conflict in Collaborative Model-Building Approaches.” Systems Research and Behavioral Science 29, no. 2 (March 2012): 194–208. doi:10.1002/sres.2106.