Collaborative Design

World leading partnerships have been built through the development of collaborative design practices. Collaborative design is seen by many as an ideal mechanism for exchanging knowledge. When operating effectively, these partnerships have had a significant beneficial impact on productivity and the economy. A detailed consideration of the mechanisms for successfully supporting the collaborative design process through a fundamental understanding of the conceptual elements of collaborative design (that require management and nurturing) is lacking, but is needed by the research community.

The structure of a collaborative design partnership is dynamic in its nature. It evolves with the natural variation in the availability of the designers within the network and the technology that the designers use. This evolutionary nature presents challenges with respect to: the development of collaborative relationships to promote growth both individually and collaboratively; the management and sharing of intellectual property and the decision making process related to the management of the collaborative network.

Support for the fundamental aspects of collaboration is required for collaboration between geographically distributed and culturally different organisations to be effective. For example, information exchange is confounded by the confidential or restricted nature of the information as well as by other barriers to collaboration such as trust. Many existing solutions for supporting collaboration are in reality no more than a means of exchanging information. For these solutions to be truly effective a characterisation and framework for collaborative design is required in order that appropriate architectures can be developed to meet the specific requirements of differing collaborative design situations.

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