PATRICIA WALL

Contributed Articles

The Baker’s Dozen: The Presence of the Gift in Service Encounters

BRINDA DALAL and PATRICIA WALL This paper explores whether or not Marcel Mauss’s concept of the gift is applicable to understanding the diverse roles that ethnographers assume in corporate environments. Kneading together the themes of gift exchange from anthropological literature on the one hand and “Representations” from the participatory design research community on the other; we suggest that the artifacts we create and share with customers actually evoke the presence of the gift in customer interactions. We argue that specific types of representations - a key component in our methodological toolkit - may be likened to the thirteenth loaf in the baker’s dozen; given to the customer to demonstrate equitable partnerships, enhance communication and garner trust in a perpetually changing marketplace. Using case studies, we examine how these objects illuminate the complexity of our own sociality in professional settings and furthermore, help to deepen or transform customer service engagements....

Giving Voice to Print Production Facility Workers: Representing Actual Work Practices in the Streamlining of a Labor Intensive Production Print Job

NATHANIEL MARTIN, MARY ANN SPRAGUE, PATRICIA WALL and JENNIFER WATTS-PEROTTI This paper presents findings from an ethnographic study of digital production printing, with a focus on a complex, labor-intensive production print job. The goal of the study was to inform the development of tools, processes and technologies to improve the efficiency of this kind of job within the print production facility. By documenting how work was done from the perspective of the people who did the work, our study ensured that the voices and perspectives of the workers were formally represented in the process of improving and streamlining the tools and print production facility workflows....

Back to the Future of Work: Informing Corporate Renewal

JENNIFER WATTS-ENGLERT, MARGARET SZYMANSKI, PATRICIA WALL, MARY ANN SPRAGUE and BRINDA DALAL This paper describes the results of a multi-year ethnographic study of how knowledge workers integrate new technology into their work practices. We studied mobile and remote workers who use smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and social networking to support their work. Study findings describe the characteristics of mobile work, the coordination of multiple devices and sources of information, how new technology functioned as a social resource and issues that arose when participants used personal mobile devices to support work. We will also discuss how we are working with corporate teams to renew our research projects, and the solutions and services the company offers to support the changing nature of work....

Pushing New Frontiers: Examining the Future of Paper and Electronic Documents

JENNIFER WATTS-PEROTTI, MARY ANN SPRAGUE, PATRICIA WALL and CATHERINE MCCORKINDALE Rapid socio-technological change is underway in the world of work. The Xerox Future of Work team conducted ethnographic studies to explore the impact of these changes on the use of paper, printing, and electronic documents. Study findings revealed needs and requirements for workers of the future, and influenced the research directions Xerox is undertaking to explore how documents (both paper and electronic) play a role in the world of work. The team used several techniques to encourage innovation within the company, including the creation of an advisory board, a video podcast and a design directions document. By developing growth spaces that often require new business models and business innovation, the project is a strong example of how ethnographic studies can “take CARE of business.” The project has also “taken care of BUSINESS” by lowering risk, driving innovation, and demonstrating the value that ethnographic studies can bring to the corporate...

The Secret Life of Medical Records: A Study of Medical Records and the People Who Manage Them

NATHANIEL MARTIN and PATRICIA WALL A study of the practices surrounding paper medical records captured key aspects of the work necessary to support this crucial element of health care. It uncovered work that was invisible to the nurses and physicians who use the records. This invisible work comprises tasks necessary to find and deliver the records as well as those necessary to ensure that the records are accurate and up to date. This study was undertaken because medical records are undergoing a transition from paper to digital systems, which will impact the practices of users of these systems at all levels, including clerical and medical staff. This is an area of particular interest to our organization as we look to provide technologies and services that enable seamless integration of paper and digital worlds. New technologies and practices will need to be developed to accomplish what is now being done invisibly....