Boundary Actors in User-Developer Communication

Abstract: Boundary actors are individuals located and acting in the intersection of different groups intended to enhance and support communication and learning across group boundaries. We review 13 articles addressing boundary acting in user-developer communication in IS journals and identify different tasks of, and requirements for boundary acting in cross-boundary communication. The findings are reflected upon a layered model of communication. The model identifies different layers of meta-knowledge that human beings use for interpreting messages: social knowledge, working knowledge, content knowledge, symbolic knowledge, and computational knowledge. Communication is not possible without this meta-knowledge. Our findings suggest that social knowledge is needed for understanding and learning to take place in boundary acting. By constituting the wider context of the communication situation, social knowledge seems essential for correct interpretations to occur also on the other layers of communication. It is necessary for people who communicate to acknowledge and adopt each other’s meta-knowledge to be able to achieve mutual understanding in a communication situation.

Reference: Koskinen, M. & Pirinen, A. 2007. Boundary Actors in User-Developer Communication. In T. Tiainen, H. Isomäki, M. Korpela, A. Mursu, P. Nykänen, M.-K. Paakki & S. Pekkola (Eds.) Proceedings of the 30th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia – IRIS30. Net Publications D-2007-9, Department of Computer Sciences. Tampere, Finland: University of Tampere.

Available online: 2007-IRIS30.pdf