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ERIC Number: ED556090
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 154
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3035-4488-0
Mapping Visual Negotiations in Innovation Driven Teams: A Peek into the Design Process Culture of Graduate Engineering Students
Miranda Mendoza, Constanza Sofia
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Today, the boundaries of disciplines are in a state of flux. The borders are blurred and innovations occur due to the joining of different disciplinary tribes and interaction of teams with diverse epistemological backgrounds. It is not news that this increased diversity in using the design process can bring friction and clashes due to disparate interpretations of how to resolve a particular project prompt. The more ambiguous the project prompt, the more potential it has to raise disagreement. This is exactly what happens in the ME-COURSE, a first year graduate course in engineering design that takes place in a renowned university in Northern California. The upside of all of this tension, however, is that the dissonance affords the combining and recombining of old information in diverse ways that can lead to innovation. This seems to be understood by educational settings such as this university, which seeks to recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds in order to unleash the creative potential of a team. In order for these different tribes to reach agreement and be successful, however, this dissonance has to be consciously orchestrated. For this to happen, educational strategies that foster healthy conflict need to be embraced. Through the fieldwork I conducted for eight months with task-oriented teams from the ME-COURSE community, I learned that differences in academic beliefs exist in communities of practice that at a first glance seemed homogenous. This micro-segmentation in knowledge systems is mainly due to previous undergraduate training that plays a major role in conflict arousal within teams. Nonetheless, techniques that foster positive negotiations have been introduced through instruction in order to stage-manage this conflict and turn it into something valuable for team creativity. Some of these techniques have been heavily influenced through contact with Silicon Valley and vice versa, while other techniques emerge innately through the work of the students through construction of ephemeral trading zones (Galison 1999) and visual boundary objects (Star and Griesemer 1989). The use of ephemeral trading zones and visual boundary objects helps to effectively bridge the communication divide of team members from different disciplinary backgrounds. In order to harness and better understand the virtues of diversity, I argue that visual diagrams and other forms of visual techniques arise naturally and become a potential strategy to tackle diversity without losing the advantages of embracing disciplinary diversity. In addition, new research methods need to be brought in to analyze things as intangible as team dynamics. Visual research approaches could be crucial in making these relationships visible for further analysis. This dissertation is exploratory and limited in nature and scope, yet it opens the door to a new potential area of study. The study of team dynamics through visual diagrams and other visual techniques can be used both to support work that has been already done in visual research and engineering design education, and for future assessments on team work and negotiation in design education curricula. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California