5 Method: data collection and analysis
5.1.1 The first phase: an exploratory data collection 6
The purpose of the first phase was first of all to find relevant organizations that were about to enroll or already had enrolled immersive technologies, like head-mounted displays and immersive VEs (produced by 3D CAD software), into their organizational routines, and to explore, through interviews, how the matter and form of immersive technologies, for example head-mounted displays and its related software and hardware, imbricate with organizational routines. Once I had found relevant organizations which fulfilled the above criteria, the main purpose was then to gain access to the organization in order to conduct a longitudinal investigation of how these immersive technologies influence organizational routines. However, before elaborating on the longitudinal study I initially present the explorative study.
The initial explorative study consists of five case descriptions of organizations, four of which within the AEC industry and one within the manufacturing industry. Common to the cases are the following factors. First, they have experience with enrolling head-mounted displays and immersive VEs, in their organizational routines but with varying degrees of success with regard to retaining them in the ostensive patterns of their organizational routines. Second, these immersive technologies were all enrolled in what I define as their organizational meeting routine.
And lastly, while one of the four cases is within the manufacturing industry, the cases are all within graphic heavy industries where an essential part of their work is to design, produce, and communicate 3D artifacts internally to each other, during design and production, and externally to either potential or current clients.
The data collection process started in August and ended in December of 2017. All of the five organizations are located in Northern Europe where some of the major ones also provide services in other regions as well (see Table 9 for an overview). The chosen organizations were all currently using head-mounted displays to show the immersive VEs in their organizational routines. For each of the interviews an interview guide was created to keep focus on the head-mounted displays
6 This chapter is an extension of: Hofma, C.C., Constantiou, I., 2018. Immersive virtual environments: understanding its influence on organizational routines, in: The 26th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2018. Association for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL).
Thesis 76 primarily and their use in organizational routines (see appendix: Interview guide – The first explorative phase). However, due to the explorative nature of the interviews, the interview guides acted mostly as a way to keep track of facts of the organization but also to make sure that the topic remained relevant for the research question and did not steer too much in an irrelevant direction.
For example, the interviewees often mentioned augmented reality during these interviews because this technology is often associated with head-mounted displays. In addition, a small project description of this thesis was also sent to the interviewees before the actual interview took place.
And during each of the interviews I took notes while also recording the interview. During all of the interviews, except the interview with General Contractor B, a head-mounted display was present that served to demonstrate how the employees were using it in practice.
The first organization is a comparatively large architect company in Northern Europe. As an architect company (Architect Company A), it is involved in the planning and/or the design phase of construction projects (see Figure 11). I contacted this organization because they had used head-mounted displays since 2015, with the main intent of improving communication with existing and current clients. Traditionally, they had used paper and pen, 2D CAD drawings, and a traditional monitor to show potential clients building designs, but since 2015 they had complemented these tools with head-mounted displays.
The interview with the architect company was conducted in the beginning of August 2017 and lasted 46 minutes. The interview was semi-structured as an interview guide was used, but to keep the explorative nature of the interview, I mainly asked open-ended questions. These questions related primarily to organizaitonal routines as well as immersive technologies in general, in particular head-mounted displays as well as the surrounding technical infrastructure it is connected to. The interviewee was the senior architect in charge of their use of head-mounted displays. As it was the first interview, the interviewee was asked to do most of the talking unless going off into more irrelevant topics such as for example augmented reality.
The second organization is a comparatively large general contractor (General Contractor A) in Northern Europe. It covers all the phases of a construction project, from planning over design to execution of any given project (see Figure 11). Since 2010 they have been sketching and designing building models through the use of various CAD software. But from 2014 onwards, they have tried to incorporate more immersive technologies, such as head-mounted displays, into their organizational meeting routine.
Thesis 77 The interview with the general contractor was conducted in mid-August 2017 and lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes. During the interview, two employees were present: a general manager with experience in using head-mounted displays and an engineer that developed 3D models for use in head-mounted displays. The interviewees initially introduced themselves and were subsequently asked to talk about if they used head-mounted displays and if so, how and in which organizational routines they used them.
As this second interview progressed, some similarities emerged which I asked the interviewees to elaborate and provide examples for. It became clear, for example, that they were mainly using head-mounted displays during their organizational meeting routine.
The third interview was with a medium-sized general contractor in Northern Europe (General Contractor B). They provide services in all the different stages of construction projects (see Figure 11). Since 2012, they have been using VEs in the form of CAD software to sketch and design 3D models of buildings for demonstrations to their clients. Traditionally, 3D models were displayed on regular computer screens but since 2015, they have been using head-mounted displays to give clients a more immersive experience.
I conducted the interview in mid-August 2017, and it lasted for 48 minutes. Four 4 employees were present: two project managers that had experience with technologies and two employees that were responsible for the technical development of head-mounted displays and immersive VEs. As with the aforementioned interviews, I predominantly asked open-ended questions relating to how they used head-mounted displays, as well as the surrounding technical infrastructure it is connected to, both internally between colleagues and externally together with clients. However, due to the presence of four employees, dialogue and discussion often arose between the interviewees. Most of the time, the interviewees contributed roughly equally to the dialogue. As a consequence, during the interview, I informally took on the role as a moderator by asking elaborating questions when, for example, their dialogue came to an end or if they steered in an unwanted direction which for example did not have to do with head-mounted displays or with the immersive VEs they facilitate. In this manner, I sought to maintain the explorative nature of the interviews while also building on the knowledge I had already gained from the previous interviews.
The fourth organization in this first exploratory phase is a small product development company that develop ideas into products and subsequently markets and sells them for other companies. To
Thesis 78 build these products, they utilize various forms of 3D CAD software. But since 2014, they have used head-mounted displays to sell virtual prototypes of future products to their clients to make the sales routine more convincing.
The interview with the product development company was done at the end of August 2017. The interview lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes, and the interviewee was the CEO of the company. As with the aforementioned interviews, I had prepared an interview guide although slightly modified to also ask about some of the themes that the previous interviewees had experienced. However, these questions were usually not necessary, as the interviewee in this and the previous cases often mentioned some of the same themes. For example, as with the previous three interviews, this organizaiton also used head-mounted displays when interacting with clients during their organizational meeting routine.
I conducted a last interview in this exploratory phase with a large architect company (Architect Company B). They mainly provide services in either the planning and/or the design phase of any given construction project (see Figure 11). This architect company initially started to experiment with head-mounted displays in 2015 but it was not before 2017 that they had started to use it to communicate drawings to clients during their organizational meeting routine.
The interview was done in the beginning of December 2017 and had a duration of 1 hour and 7 minutes. The interview was semi-structured as an interview guide was used. But to keep the explorative nature of the interview, I mainly asked open-ended questions. These questions related primarily to the organizational routines in which they had used head-mounted displays while also touching upon how it was used together with e.g. the CAD software they were using. During the interview, four employees were present, all of whom were architects by trade while also being involved in the implementation and use of the head-mounted display. This cast me as the interviewer as predominantly a moderator of the interviewees' dialogue and discussion which entailed that I asked elaborating questions when their dialogue came to an end or if they steered in an unwanted direction which for example did not have to do with head-mounted displays, immersive VEs or other related hardware or software.
Organizations Date Duration Number of
interviewees Architect Company A Beginning of August
2017 46 minutes 1
General Contractor A Middle of August 2017 1 hour 10 minutes 2
Thesis 79 General Contractor B End of August 2017 48 minutes 4
Product Development Company
End of August 2017 1 hour 30 minutes 1 Architect Company B Beginning of December
2017 1 hour 7 minutes 4
Table 9: Overview of phase 1 interviews.
The data collection of this initial explorative phase ended when I gained entrance to a sixth case organization in mid-December of 2017, also an architect company situated in Northern Europe.
This initiated the second phase of the data collection process where I gathered more elaborate and in-depth data. To better understand the context in which this second phase of data collection took place, I will in the following section initially describe the case before elaborating on how the data was collected in that architect office.