Towards a Knowledge Communication Perspective on Designing Artefacts Supporting Knowledge Work

Niclas Eberhagen


The designing of computer-based artefacts to support knowledge work is far from a straightforward rational process. Characteristics of knowledge work have a bearing upon how developers (or designers), together with users, come to approach and capture the rich and tacit knowing of the practice. As all knowledge work is about the production of knowledge, transforming it, so is the design practice for developing artefacts to occupy space within that same practice. There is a need for providing a conceptual language to better reflect the nature of this design work that goes beyond those dressed in the managerial (or rational) language of planned activities and deliverables. Towards this end, a conceptual frame is presented that makes several important aspects of the design practice visible. The frame brings together both nature of design work and characteristics of knowledge work to extend the frame of knowledge in user-developer communication of Kensing and Munk-Madsen. Thereby, providing a means to focus attention and dress debate on what situated designing is. By using explicit concepts, such as types knowledge domains embedded in the design situation, the transitional paths between them, and design engagements, it arms practitioners with specific linguistic constructs to direct attention and efforts in planning and organizing development undertakings.
Purpose – the purpose of this work is to present and argue for a perspective on designing of computer-based artefacts supporting knowledge work. This is done to inform practitioners, directing their attention and dressing debate, and providing a conceptual language to better capture design activities in planning and organizing development undertakings.
Design/Methodology/Approach – The approach presented in this article is conceptual in so far that a model or frame providing linguistic constructs is constructed and argued, building upon scholarly work of knowledge communication and drawing upon previous findings from empirical encounters.
Findings – A conceptual frame is presented that captures the design situation as a situated knowledge communication process.
Research limitations/implications – The conceptual frame presented remains yet to be validated in practical application. This may be achieved either using it as a lens to uncover and explain phenomena in similar design work, thereby putting its explanatory power to the test, or using it to direct future development undertakings, thereby putting its predictive power to the test.
Practical implications – The practical implications of the design frame lies in its power to provide linguistic constructs to direct one’s effort in planning and organizing development undertakings, and in extension to provide argument for decision-makers allocating resources.
Originality/Value – By extending the model of knowledge communication of Kensing and Munk-Madsen, and framing it within a situated design context, it better reflects characteristics of knowledge work, providing practitioners with the means to better organize design activities.
Research type – conceptual.


situated designing; knowledge work context; conceptual model; knowledge communication; computer-based artifacts

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