Date of Award

Summer 2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Information Systems

First Advisor

Robert Michael Klashner

Second Advisor

James McDonald

Third Advisor

David Mendonca

Fourth Advisor

Murray Turoff

Fifth Advisor

George Robert Widmeyer

Abstract

Engineering processes such as the maintenance of mission-critical infrastructures are highly unpredictable processes that are vital for everyday life, as well as for national security goals. These processes are categorized as Emergent Knowledge Processes (EKP), organizational processes that are characterized by a changing set of actors, distributed knowledge bases, and emergent knowledge sharing activities where the process itself has no predetermined structure. The research described here utilizes the telecommunications network fault diagnosis process as a specific example of an EKP. The field site chosen for this research is a global undersea telecommunication network where nodes are staffed by trained personnel responsible for maintaining local equipment using Network Management Systems. The overall network coordination responsibilities are handled by a centralized command and control center, or Network Management Center. A formal case study is performed in this global telecommunications network to evaluate the design of an Alarm Correlation Tool (ACT).

This work defines a design methodology for an Information System (IS) that can support complex engineering diagnosis processes. As such, a Decision Support System design model is used to iterate through a number of design theories that guide design decisions. Utilizing the model iterations, it is found that IS design theories such as Decision Support Systems (DSS), Expert Systems (ES) and Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) design theories, do not produce systems appropriate for supporting complex engineering processes. A design theory for systems that support EKPs is substituted as the project's driving theory during the final iterations of the DSS Design Model. This design theory poses the use of naive users to support the design process as one of its key principles. The EKP design theory principles are evaluated and addressed to provide feedback to this recently introduced Information System Design Theory. The research effort shows that use of the EKP design theory is also insufficient in designing complex engineering systems. As a result, the main contribution of this work is to augment design theory with a methodology that revolves around the analysis of the knowledge management and control environment as a driving force behind IS design.

Finally, the research results show that a model-based knowledge captunng algorithm provides an appropriate vehicle to capture and manipulate experiential engineering knowledge. In addition, it is found that the proposed DSS Design Model assists in the refinement of highly complex system designs. The results also show that the EKP design theory is not sufficient to address all the challenges posed by systems that must support mission-critical infrastructures.

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