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Organizational Influences on Interdisciplinary Interactions during Research and Design of Large-Scale Complex Engineered Systems
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Author and Affiliation:
McGowan, Anna-Maria R.(NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States);
Seifert, Colleen M.(Michigan Univ., Dept. of Psychology, Ann Arbor, MI, United States);
Papalambros, Panos Y.(Michigan Univ., Ann Arbor, MI, United States)
Abstract: The design of large-scale complex engineered systems (LaCES) such as an aircraft is inherently interdisciplinary. Multiple engineering disciplines, drawing from a team of hundreds to thousands of engineers and scientists, are woven together throughout the research, development, and systems engineering processes to realize one system. Though research and development (R&D) is typically focused in single disciplines, the interdependencies involved in LaCES require interdisciplinary R&D efforts. This study investigates the interdisciplinary interactions that take place during the R&D and early conceptual design phases in the design of LaCES. Our theoretical framework is informed by both engineering practices and social science research on complex organizations. This paper provides preliminary perspective on some of the organizational influences on interdisciplinary interactions based on organization theory (specifically sensemaking), data from a survey of LaCES experts, and the authors experience in the research and design. The analysis reveals couplings between the engineered system and the organization that creates it. Survey respondents noted the importance of interdisciplinary interactions and their significant benefit to the engineered system, such as innovation and problem mitigation. Substantial obstacles to interdisciplinarity are uncovered beyond engineering that include communication and organizational challenges. Addressing these challenges may ultimately foster greater efficiencies in the design and development of LaCES and improved system performance by assisting with the collective integration of interdependent knowledge bases early in the R&D effort. This research suggests that organizational and human dynamics heavily influence and even constrain the engineering effort for large-scale complex systems.
Publication Date: Sep 17, 2012
Document ID:
20120014577
(Acquired Oct 17, 2012)
Subject Category: ENGINEERING (GENERAL)
Report/Patent Number: NF1676L-15320
Document Type: Conference Paper
Meeting Information: 12th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference; 17-19 Sep. 2012; Indianapolis, IN; United States
Meeting Sponsor: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Reston, VA, United States
Contract/Grant/Task Num: WBS 561581.02.08.07.41
Financial Sponsor: NASA Langley Research Center; Hampton, VA, United States
Organization Source: NASA Langley Research Center; Hampton, VA, United States
Description: 14p; In English; Original contains color and black and white illustrations
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: Copyright; Distribution as joint owner in the copyright
NASA Terms: COMPLEX SYSTEMS; SYSTEMS ENGINEERING; EFFICIENCY; ENGINEERING DRAWINGS; PROCEDURES; SURVEYS
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