A critical look on the status of the framework lead to the following observations: Firstly, the principles are based on subjective observations and interpretations from the four enterprise modeling projects. The subjectivity in observations and interpretations are due to an inherent bias of the researcher, being trained to notice some phenomena but not others.
Secondly, the principles are proposed as possible tendencies based on these interpretations, stripping away exceptions and perceived anomalies (Walsham, 1995:79). The lessons learned are local and specific to the studied projects, and may not necessarily be generalized outside the context of this research project.
Finally, Tema is comprised of a number of concepts and techniques that are assumed to be means to support the problem situations observed in practice and discussed as a part of the principles. Consequently, Tema may at best be seen as a more or less plausible approach to enterprise modeling.
Still, as Tema draws upon both observations from empirical studies and on theoretical contributions from other researchers, it is more plausible than approaches that do not have an empirical basis. The crux of Tema and any other proposed approach for enterprise modeling is its actual use in a practical setting.
"Interpretive researchers are not saying to the reader that they are reporting facts; instead, they are reporting their interpretations of other people's interpretations. It is thus vital, in order to establish some credibility to the reader, that they describe in some detail how they have arrived at their 'results'. Reporting on 'soft' human issues is not an excuse for sloppiness."As the main focus of chapter 10 is credibility, the current section is an attempt at describing in more detail how results have been reached. The discussion concerns four main issues:
Still, both the number and variation in projects are considered satisfactory. Having four projects with slight variation can be seen as a means to ensure a certain robustness in Tema, as the framework must be applicable under various conditions. The Gazz project turned out to be somewhat peripheral to the other projects, and hence, only three of the projects are considered relevant to Tema on a broad basis.
A timely question concerns the fact that all four projects are from the same organization. How might this have influenced the observed behavior in the projects? There are at least two relevant issues to discuss: The degree of overlap in project participation and the degree of institutionalization of enterprise modeling practice.
Concerning overlap, one actor played a central role in both VPT and PA30, but was not involved in TEK-S at all. There was no other overlap between VPT and PA30. Three actors participated in both VPT and Gazz. One of the PG actors in TEK-S also participated in VPT, but he was not observed to be advocating neither why nor how to do enterprise modeling. To conclude, although there were considerable overlap between Gazz and VPT, the influence of overlap in project participation is not considered to influence significantly on the observed behavior.
Concerning institutionalization, there have been limited attempts within Statoil to summarize experiences with enterprise modeling (e.g., from PA30), but there are no widely available corporate guidelines on how to conduct enterprise modeling. The project participants did neither receive any official guidelines on enterprise modeling. To conclude, the studied projects are believed to be fairly independent of each other.
A positive effect of studying projects within the same organization is the improved understanding of the organization that is studied, providing a background for interpretation of observations, and becoming more of an insider than otherwise possible. A significant amount of time has been spent in Statoil, participating in seminars, presentations, workshops, and ad-hoc conversations in the corridors, in addition to the more formally held meetings as a part of enterprise modeling projects. A joint paper has also been written (Christensen et al., 1995).
Still, a timely question may be if not more focussed interviews would have provided even more confidence in the observations from the projects. In retrospect, more reliance on interviews in addition to observation and document studies is considered favorable. Through interviews, more information about how the actors themselves see enterprise modeling could have been gathered and compared to the observed practice.
Although planned interviews with prepared interview guides were not held in TEK-S, more informal dialogues took place during lunch, when having a break, waiting for meetings to start, etc. Still, interviews admittedly might have been used more widely in an attempt at triangulation of observations.
Recording of data from meetings was done taking notes using paper and pencil. In VPT, PA30 and Gazz, the notes were rough and coarse. In TEK-S, the notes were detailed to the level of statements from single actors (using a kind of shorthand). The notes were written out either the same or the following day, being fresh in memory (as advised by Walsham, 1995:78).
The role played in VPT, Gazz and TEK-S was as observer, taking notes, but not contributing in any significant way. The only exceptions were in the Gazz project, working on design principles for the user interface of the tool, and in the TEK-S project, designing the first few prototypes of the Web version of the strategy document and demonstrating them to the process group.
Mumford (1986:318) speaks of the ethical side of doing research: Informing
all participants of the presence and intentions of the researcher and involving
them in the research project. All the participants in VPT, Gazz, and the
TEK-S process group and work groups were informed that the project was
|In TEK-S, one of the PG members (A) was approached by another actor (B), questioning the risk of allowing a student (me) to take part in the highly sensitive discussions of corporate strategy. Actor B admitted that he did not feel comfortable with the situation. Actor A answered that he trusted me and that if it would make actor B more secure, A would hire me. This proposal for solution seemed to remove B's hesitations concerning my participation (the hiring was not necessary to carry through).|
To conclude, although it is difficult to assess, the presence of a student in the meetings did not seem to influence the behavior of the actors significantly. It is unlikely that enterprise modeling would have been carried out differently without this presence.
Appropriate sensitivity was attempted developed in three ways:
A common way to ensure that interpretations make sense to a wider audience than the researcher is to publish in refereed conferences or journals. This has been done only to a very limited degree: The joint paper on PA30 (Christiansen et al., 1995) discussed purposes of enterprise modeling in addition to essentials of the PA30 project. Chapter 4 on related areas has been developed from (Totland and Conradi, 1995). Still, the main results from the project have not been widely published (i.e., the main empirical study, the principles, and Tema).
To conclude, although the results reported in the thesis only have been
published to a limited degree, the observations have been confirmed by
actors in the studied projects.