Publication: Foundations of Loose Coupling for CSCW Design

In loosely coupled groups and organizations, work units are autonomous, share few or weak interdependencies, and collaborate infrequently. The complex social aspects of loosely coupled work have significant implications for the design of CSCW technologies. However, it is unclear how CSCW systems should be designed to support loosely coupled groups and organizations. Theories and design frameworks have not yet been developed to guide design, and current CSCW research on loose coupling is limited and often overlooks important underlying organizational, social, and environmental issues. In this paper, I will take a first step in developing an understanding of CSCW design for loose coupling by surveying organizational research literature to identify the social and organizational aspects of loose coupling that are relevant to the design of CSCW systems. Then, I will survey CSCW literature to identify design approaches that are currently used to support loose coupling. I will close by synthesizing the findings from both areas and will discuss what organizational research findings suggest about future CSCW designs.




David Pinelle
College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Designing Groupware to Support Loosely Coupled Workgroups
Loosely coupled workgroups - where workers are autonomous and weakly interdependent - are common in the real world.


Pinelle, D., Gutwin, C. 2004. Foundations of Loose Coupling for CSCW Design., Technical Report HCI-TR-04-02, Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan.


@techreport {pinelle-depth-paper,
author= {David Pinelle and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Foundations of Loose Coupling for CSCW Design},
year= {2004},
number= {HCI-TR-04-02},
school= {Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan}