WTO has an active portfolio of projects exploring the intersection between work, technology, and organization. Projects generally feature concern for work, mainly in technical settings, and consider the organizational issues implicated at the intersection of work and technology. Our bias is toward field-based research in which we employ ethnographic approaches to understanding work practice in situ. In some cases, we use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate phenomena of interest.
Our research projects actively involve students at all levels (Ph.D., Masters, and Undergraduate) and often include our research partners from industry as investigators. As we engage with new students and partners, our projects evolve in unanticipated and exciting directions.
Most of our projects are supported with generous funding from external agencies such as the National Science Foundation and from industry sponsors.
For a description of WTO's early projects, click here.
Cross-Cultural Responses to Technology
2005 - current
Pamela J. Hinds, Vanessa Evers (University of Amsterdam) and Patrick Rau (Tsinghua University)
Students: Talia Brodecki, Henrietta Cramer, Heidy Maldonado, Lin Wang (Tsinghua University) and Ben Robinson
Funding: Research Partner: Microsoft Research Asia (Chen Zhao)
In this project, we are studying cultural differences in peoples\\' responses to technology based on the theory that fundamental differences in cultural beliefs, values and behaviors affect how people respond to particular instantiations of technology. We have conducted studies on how people interact with and respond to intelligent agents, such as robots. More recently, we have conducted research on cultural differences in social networking behavior. To conduct this work, we rely heavily on theory and methods from cross-cultural psychology.
- Pamela J. Hinds. (2010) When in Rome: The role of culture and context in adherence to robot recommendationsPp. - in eds. ACM International Conference on Human Robot Interaction. Osaka, Japan: .
- T. Brodecki, Vanessa Evers, Pamela J. Hinds, Heidy Maldonado. (2008) "Relational vs. group self-construal: Untangling the role of national culture in HRI." Proceedings of the Human-Robot Interaction Conference.
Culture & Creativity
2010 - current
Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Hannah Kim, Siddarth Mishra
This project is focused on understanding cultural differences in the meaning of creativity and what stimulates it.
Culture & Work Practices
2007 - current
Pamela J. Hinds, Sara Vaerlander
Students: Carol Xu, Tania Laden, Lei Liu, Joachim Lyon, Brandi Pierce (Carnegie Mellon University), and Bobbi Thomason
Work is increasingly conducted in teams of people spread around the globe. For example, products are designed around the world and used by people world-wide. We are interested in how people who are working in global teams reconcile regional differences in needs and requirements and create global products. We are also conducting studies focusing on the relationship between national culture and context and the work practices that have emerged.
Ethical Issues in Nanotechnology Workplaces
2010 - current
Robert E. McGinn
Funding: Research Partner: National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), Prof. Katherine McComas of Cornell University
I am involved in an series of initiatives aimed at helping researchers enrich their thinking about ethical issues that arise in nanotechnology workplaces. For example, I'm developing an ethics module for new-user training at nanotech research labs and devising a survey of attitudes and beliefs about ethical issues in relation to nanotech on the part of undergraduates involved in nanotech research, I introduced a new graduate course ("Research Ethics for Engineers and Scientists") that included a substantial component on ethical issues related to nanotechnology, and I am writing a periodic column on ethics and nanotechnology aimed at nanotech researchers for the NNIN website.
Robots & Teams
2006 - current
Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Malte Jung, Siddharth Mishra
Our goal in this project is to explore the ways people will work with and adapt to autonomous mobile robots, to understand the possibilities and problems of mutual adaptation in human-robot interaction over time, and to anticipate changes in the group dynamics of collaborative work. We are examining how the presence of a robot affects the development of shared mental models, transactive memory, cohesion, and commitment in robot-assisted groups. We are also exploring how a robot's expertise relative to the group affects group performance.
The Institutional Field of Corporate Political Power
2007 - current
Stephen R. Barley
Students: Thomas Haymore, Daniel Morales, Andrew Blanco, Sarah Bellows-Blakely
This project explores how since the late 1970â€™s corporations and other business groups have build an institutional field dedicated to shaping Federal legislation and policy in the United States.
Networks of Corporate Power
2008 - current
Stephen R. Barley
Students: Thomas Haymore, Daniel Morales, Andrew Blanco
This project focuses on identifying and analyzing networks organizations formed by campaign contributions, the employment of lobbying firms and the movement in individuals between government, corporations, lobbing firms, unions, trade associations, and citizenâ€™s groups.
Subgroup Dynamics, Language, & Knowledge Sharing in Global Teams
2002 - current
Pamela J. Hinds, Catherine Cramton (George Mason University)
Students: Tsedal Beyene and Aditya Johri
In previous research, we noticed that globally distributed teams often developed an "us" vs. "them" dynamic across sites. Although they are structured as interdependent work teams, distributed, technology-enabled teams frequently are composed of two or more collocated subgroups. The collocated subgroups often reflect national identities, adding an additional layer of complexity. In this work, we identify factors likely to promote and mitigate fracturing between subgroups and consider the impact of subgroup formation on task effectiveness. From our studies, we are also gaining insight into the challenges of a lingua franca in these teams and into the value of site visits.
This project involved a two-year study of collaboration in twelve internationally distributed software development teams. Data collection activities included ethnographic interviews with team members and managers, on-site observation of teams, and team performance assessments. In 189 semi-structured interviews, we explored how team members thought about their team and their experiences in the team. We also conducted twelve person weeks of "concurrent observation" of six of the distributed teams in our study. Concurrent observation of a team distributed between Germany and India, for example, meant that one member of our research team observed during a week in Germany while another member observed members of the same team located in India. Approximately one year after the observations, we also conducted a second round of on-site data collection (including team meetings and selected interviews) to get a sense of how the dynamics on these teams evolved, to ask questions about issues gleaned from our initial analysis, and to get a measure of team performance at a second point in time.
We are currently writing papers on language challenges, cross-national learning, the enduring role of site visits, and influence dynamics.
Robots at Work
2001 - current
Pamela J. Hinds, David Wettergreen (Carnegie Mellon)
Students: Justin Chung, Hank Jones, Taemie Kim, Yuechuan She, Rosanne Siino, Kristen Stubbs
Collaborators: Terry RobertsFunding:
How do humans develop an understanding of a world in which humans and robotic assistants are interacting and coordinating work together? The work environment raises certain issues, such as teamwork and productivity, which are less evident in non-work settings. In this series of studies, we examine social and organizational issues such as autonomy and responsibility for outcomes, worker satisfaction, and coordination across workers. To study how robotic assistants will interact with people in the work environment, we have explored the mental models that workers develop of robotic assistants and of the social system in which the robotic assistant functions. We are also exploring the relationship between autonomy, disclosure and transparency, that is, when robots are more autonomous, how is transparency achieved? What is the role of self-disclosure (e.g. about its decision processes) by the robot?
One study examined how members of a science team used a remote rover to collect science data. The goal of this research was to gain a thorough understanding of the Life in the Atacama human-robot system through a set of systematic observations conducted simultaneously of the remote science team (in the U.S.) and the engineering team and rover in the Atacama desert in Chile. By conducting in-depth ethnographic observations, Pamela Hinds (Stanford), Kristen Stubbs (CMU), and David Wettergreen (CMU) developed a better understanding of the mental model scientists had of the rover, what capabilities they attributed to the rover, what contributed to errors and confusion when commanding the rover, and how the scientists interpreted data provided by the rover. Through these observations, we make recommendations for improvements to the human-robot system including the scientist-robot interface and the rover itself.
We also conducted a study of the HelpMate robot deployed in hospitals. Our goal was to better understand how workers make sense of a robotic assistant, how these robots are integrated into the work environment, and how they affect the work practices of the hospital workers. We conducted an ethnographic "before-and-after" comparison of processes and structures; that is, observations began when the technology was first purchased but had not yet been delivered and continued as the technology was integrated into the setting. One paper from this data focuses on how different groups within the hospital made sense of the robot differently and considers how these differences contribute to conflicts around the use and acceptance of the technology.
- Pamela J. Hinds, Hank Jones, Teresa L. Roberts. (2004) "Whose Job Is It Anyway? A Study of Human–Robot Interaction in a Collaborative Task." Human Computer Interaction. 19: 151-181
- Daisy Chung, Pamela J. Hinds, Rosanne Siino. (2008) "Colleague vs. Tool: Effects of Disclosure in Human-Robot Collaboration." Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication.
- Pamela J. Hinds, Kristen Stubbs, David Wettergreen. (2007) "Autonomy and common ground in human-robot interaction: A field study with a remote autonomous explorer." IEEE Intelligent System. 22: 42-50
- Pamela J. Hinds, T. Kim. (2006) Who should I blame? The effects of autonomy and transparency on attributions in human-robot interactionPp. - in eds. . Hertfordshire, England: .
- Pamela J. Hinds, Kristen Stubbs, David Wettergreen. (2006) Challenges to grounding in human-robot interaction: Sources of errors and miscommunications in remote exploration roboticsPp. - in eds. . : .
- Pamela J. Hinds, Rosanne Siino. (2005) Robots, gender & sensemaking: Sex segregation's impact on workers making sense of a mobile autonomous robotPp. - in eds. . Barcelona, Spain: .
- Pamela J. Hinds, Rosanne Siino. (2004) "Making sense of new technology as a lead-in to structuring: The case of an autonomous mobile robot." Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings.
- Pamela J. Hinds, Hank Jones. (2002) Extreme work groups: Using SWAT teams as a model for coordinating distributed robotsPp. 372-381 in eds. . New York: ACM Press.
How the Internet is Changing the Work of Car Salesman
2003 - current
Stephen R. Barley