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  • Speaking Different Languages: Metaphor, Discourse and Disciplinary Conflict in Product Development

Shaw, Benjamin, 1997, Thesis, Speaking Different Languages: Metaphor, Discourse and Disciplinary Conflict in Product Development MPhil thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Successful product development often requires the co-operative efforts of members of
multi-disciplinary teams. Improving the effectiveness of these efforts has primarily
been approached through structural features of organisations and disciplinary
representation on project teams. More recently, interpersonal communication across
disciplinary boundaries has been recognised as problematic. Tacit familiarisation and colocation
are often assumed to address communicative difficulties.
Studies of collaborative work have identified the ability to effectively adopt the
perspectives of others as essential to successful outcomes. This work reviews literature
challenging traditional assumptions about communication and meaning, to show that
difficulties may be deeply rooted in divergent beliefs and experiences that remain
unaddressed in the course of normal work. Insights from cognitive linguistics are
discussed, which reveal metaphor to be a central process in thought and understanding.
The use of different metaphors can be seen to frame perception so that participants in
situations may develop incompatible and incommensurable views.
This study has focused on the development of a method for identifying aspects of
divergent and unshared metaphorical structuring in the ways disciplinary professionals
conceptualise about their work. The study has involved open interviews centring on
disciplinary stereotypes, and informants' beliefs about essential aspects of their work.
Texts generated were subsequently subjected to discourse analysis involving thematic
content, elements of interpretative repertoires, and the use of narratives in discerning
metaphorical themes. The work was exploratory in nature, involving a small number of
informants. Significantly different themes were identified in informants' discourses
which shed light on areas of disciplinary friction related by them. These themes are
consistent with Dougherty's (1992) findings of differences in disciplinary 'thought
worlds', but convey a richer understanding through their metaphorical nature. It is
believed that exploration and discussion of metaphorical themes may be employed in
future work to facilitate collaboration in multidisciplinary product development.

Qualification Name: MPhil
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W240 Industrial/Product Design
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W290 Design studies not elsewhere classified
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2013 10:06
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2013 10:06
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1361

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