Research Themes

Culture, Access, and Equity in the Technological World

Despite the demonstrable benefits that information technology has brought to modern society, these benefits remain inaccessible to many peoples. Sometimes the barriers are economic, due to the cost of the technology. Many more times, especially in America, the barriers are cultural, as the values, assumptions, and daily routines of social groups inhibit them from taking full advantage of the benefits that information technology offers. Research into these values, assumptions, and daily routines is the first step in overcoming them.

Typical of Institute projects examining issues of culture and access is the é-Mexico project. Supported by a grant from la Secretaría de Comuniciones y Transportes in Mexico, this project evaluated the impact of Mexico’s "digital community centers."

To learn more about the e-México project, click here.

Network Analysis and Innovation Diffusion

A central problem faced by global organizations and management today is how to accelerate the adoption of new ideas, processes and technologies. Organizational competitiveness is now dependent on the speed at which innovations can be implemented, and often at a global scale. Organizations are constantly looking for new methodologies that enable them to extract more value from their existing structures and investments.

Typical of Institute projects examining issues of innovation networks and culture is the Digital Diffusion Dashboard project (3D). With participation from Michigan’s automotive industry, the 3D project is creating cutting edge dashboard technology to help organizations monitor, manage and accelerate the diffusion of innovations with their global enterprise.

To learn more about the 3D project, click here.

E-learning and cultural challenges

In the Knowledge Society, education is an ongoing mission, not a developmental stage. Finding ways to deliver quality training and education to many and diverse populations of learners is one of the greatest challenges facing educational institutions today. Traditional assumptions about classrooms, curricula, and learning styles often stand in the way of accomplishing this. Preliminary research has shown that these assumptions can be changed, but only with carefully designed interventions.

Typical of Institute projects examining issues of e-learning and its cultural challenges is the Greenfield Coalition project. With participation from more than 10 other universities, this project developed on-line instructional material for engineering education, and examined the reception given to the new material by professors, students, and administrators.

To learn more about the Greenfield Coalition project, click here.

Design Anthropology

Companies developing new products and services have discovered that Design Anthropology offers unique insight into consumers wishes, identities, and aspirations.   As distinct from market surveys, the ethnographic methods used in Design Anthropology give voice to customers unspoken needs, and powerfully felt but inarticulate wishes.  Companies that have employed anthropologists to assist with product and service design include technology firms such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Yahoo, Motorola, and Pitney Bowes, and design consultancies such as Ideo, HLB, Sapient, and Jump Associates.

To learn more about Design Anthropology, click here.

Safety and Security

In a global, industrial society, challenges to safety and security are among the greatest challenges to America’s future prosperity. Managing these is one of the oldest responsibilities of corporations and governments, yet the newer threats of global terrorism, powerful technologies, and social instability stress even the most capable institutions. IITC research into industrial safety, knowledge management, and organizational response to crises is making a positive contribution to a safer world.

Typical of Institute projects examining issues of safety and security is the MAJOR (Multiple Agency and Jurisdiction Organized Response) Disaster Management project. This project examines the coordination of public and private agencies in response to disasters and terrorist events.

To learn more about the MAJOR project, click here.

Culture, Institutions, and Healthcare

The twin crises of healthcare affordability and medical safety has led many leaders in the medical community to call for more investment in medical informatics. When thoughtfully applied these investments can improve patient outcomes and save scarce resources. IITC researchers have examined how the use of information technology in medicine presents challenges for our customary understandings of health and personal well-being.

Typical of IITC’s projects in medical informatics is a study of Computerized Physician Order Entry. Examining the role of medical personnel in designing these systems, the researcher found that variations in practice made it extremely difficult to develop standard order sets that would cover every typical practice in a major medical center.

To learn more about the Computerized Physician Order Entry project, click here.

Technology and Organizational Learning

Despite massive investments in information technology, businesses often fail to realize productivity improvements based on the technology. Frequently this is because the companies’ information strategies overlooked the users of the technology, assuming that the technology would be automatically accepted. IITC has developed tools and metrics for improving technology management in the business world, including models that guide the joint optimization of the technology and the organizational context.

Typical of Institute efforts to improve technology and organizational learning is the Global Virtual Teams project. Examining how four different companies have used video teleconferencing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other collaboration technologies among product development teams located in France, the USA, Taiwan, and ***, the Global Virtual Teams project identified best practices and critical success factors for effective collaboration through on-line media.

To learn more about the Global Virtual Teams project, click here.