Analyzing Due Process in the Workplace

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Analyzing Due Process in the Workplace
ELIHU M. GERSON AND SUSAN LEIGH STAR
Tremont Research Institute
Every office is an open system, and the products of office work are the result of decentralized
negotiations. Changing patterns of task organization and alliance inevitably give rise to inconsistent
knowledge bases and procedures. This implies that there are no globally correct answers to problems
addressed by OIL%. Rather, systems must deal with multiple competing, possibly irreconcilable,
solutions. Articulating alternative solutions is the problem of due process. This problem and its
consequences are illustrated by a case study of a rate-setting group in a large health insurance firm.
There is no formal solution to the problem of due process. But it must be solved in practice if
distributed intelligent 01% are to be developed. We propose an alternative approach based on the
work of social scientists concerned with analyzing analogous problems in human organization.
Solution of the due process problem hinges on developing local closures to the problem faced by an
organization. This means analyzing (a) local, tacit knowledge and its transfer ability; (b) articulation
work, that is, reconciling incommensurate assumptions and procedures.
Categories and Subject Descriptors: H.l.l [Models and Principles]: Systems and Information
Theory; 1.2.0 [Artificial Intelligence]: General; 1.2.4 [Artificial Intelligence]: Knowledge Rep-
resentation Formalisms and Methods; K.6.1 [Management of Computing and Information
Systems]: Project and People Management-systems analysis and design; systems deuelopment; K.6.4
[Management of Computing and Information Systems]: System Management-centralization/
decentralization
General Terms: Design, Human Factors
1. INTRODUCTION
No representation of the world is either complete or permanent [ 111.…...

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