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Distinguished Speaker Series 2003-2004


Judy S. Olson

Richard W. Pew Professor of Human Computer Interaction
School of Information, University of Michigan

What is the Cost (Benefit) of Being Remote: Organizational Simulation as a Tool for Studying Team Work

February 13, 2004

Refreshments and Networking: 1:00 - 1:30
Presentation: 1:30 - 3:00



Faculty Host: Gloria Mark, gmark @ ics.uci.edu

RSVP: Email RSVP required to Steve Ponting at sponting @ ics.uci.edu by Monday, February 9.

Location: McDonnell Douglas Auditorium (building #311)

Cost: No cost to attend.

Directions and parking information
are available.


Abstract: For a number of years, we at CREW (the Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work) have been conducting field observations, field interventions, and laboratory studies of remote work. Some results from those various kinds of studies are inconsistent. For example, in the laboratory we find no difference between people working face-to-face and those working with high quality video, yet in the field we find loss of trust, significant delays, and dissatisfaction. Recently, we have decided to adopt a new method for examining remote work that is richer than a laboratory study and yet more controlled than a field study. We call this an organizational simulation, a buying and selling game of sorts that is played by a large group (e.g. 10 people) over time. It has a number of features in common with some aspects of real work, and yet we can control various parameters and study a fairly large number of groups to reveal the cost and benefits of being remote, as well as test various promising interventions. I will talk about several of these initial studies and their results.


About the Speaker: Judith Olson is the Richard W. Pew Professor of Human Computer Interaction at the University of Michigan. She is a professor in the School of Information, the Business School, and the Psychology Department. She got her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Michigan then held a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University before returning to Michigan as a faculty member. Except for three years at Bell Labs and a year at Rank Xerox Cambridge, UK, she has been at Michigan her entire professorial life. Her research focuses on the technology and social practices necessary for successful distance work, encompassing both laboratory and field study methods. She has served on a number of editorial boards and panels for both the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation. She was one of the first seven inductees into the CHI Academy, and this year was given an IBM Faculty Award.