3.6    A Taxonomy of Work

The three initial empirical studies indicate that the perceived difficulties of enterprise modeling are influenced by the kind of work that one tries to model, i.e., the nature of the UoD. The taxonomy provided in this section concerns this issue.

3.6.1 Four categories of work

One way to categorize work is according to the following two dimensions: The resulting four categories are illustrated in figure 3.4.
Figure 3.4: Four categories of work

The rationales for introducing the two dimensions are the following: The uncertainty of production dimension is introduced based on a claim in both VPT and PA30 that creative processes were difficult to model. The form of artifact dimension is introduced based on the claims in VPT and PA30 that physical processes are more easily agreed upon and modeled than information-based processes.

Dimensions in the taxonomy

The first dimension in the taxonomy concerns uncertainty of production. Bollinger and McGowan (1991:36) categorize work according to whether it is dominated by replication risk or design risk. Replication risk means that the main challenge is to produce a replica of an already known product. Hence, the product of the production process is known in advance, but the production process itself cannot fully be controlled (it is uncertain at the required level of abstraction).

Design risk, on the other hand, concerns the ability to produce an artifact at all from a given set of requirements. One cannot in advance say how the final product of the production process will turn out. Hence, neither the production process itself nor the outcome of the production process are known.
 

Manufacturing of shirts is an example of work associated with replication risk, provided that one has designed a prototype shirt in advance. Software production is an example of work dominated by design risk, according to Bollinger and McGowan (ibid.:35).
Along the other dimension, work can be discriminated according to the main form of the artifact that is produced: Matter or information. Artifacts dominated by their material aspect are functional due to their properties adhering to natural laws, while artifacts dominated by their information aspect derive their functionality from the symbolic meaning to actors.
 
A shirt is first an foremost a material artifact, as the intended purpose of a shirt is to keep the wearer warm or cover his body. These purposes are met according to physical laws. The valuable aspect of the shirt is perceived to be its physical qualities (unless the symbolic value of a specific brand of shirts dominates). 

The letter answering an application for a bank loan is dominantly information, as the important aspect is the meaning of the answer, not the manifestation. The paper and ink is not valuable to the applicant, while the information in the letter is.

 

Categories of work

Combining the two orthogonal dimensions provides the four categories of work as illustrated in figure 3.4: The categories may be discussed in terms of perspective making and taking: The view that categorization of work depends on community of knowing is supported by Dougherty (1992:189) stating that actors within different departments do not appreciate the complexity of other actors' work. Suchman (1995:59) agrees when stating that
"...work has a tendency to disappear at a distance, such that the further we are removed from the work of others, the more simplified, often stereotyped, our view of their work becomes."
Hence, an actor with no hands-on experience from working within a domain may describe the work as less complicated than a seasoned practitioner within the same domain (and assess work as dominated by replication risk rather than design risk). The DI type of work is equivalent to what Boland and Tenkasi (1995) refer to as knowledge-intensive. Their stance is that effective perspective making and perspective taking is required in organizations doing knowledge-intensive work. They do not say that the activities are not valuable in organizations doing other kinds of work.

3.6.2 Categories of work in the empirical studies

Of the categories of work, three out of four were observed in the initial studies: Work belonging to the DM category was not observed in any of the studies.