Building on disagreement visually : the system and the method

Alexander, Elitsa, Eppler, Martin J. and Comi, Alice (2018) Building on disagreement visually : the system and the method. In: 26th European Conference on Information Systems: Beyond Digitization - Facets of Socio-Technical Change, (ECIS 2018); 23 - 28 Jun 2018, Portsmouth, U.K.. ISBN 9781861376671


In this paper we introduce an information system and a research method that use disagreement in order to provide value adding insights relevant for research and work practice. The system includes an innovative electronic survey platform which reports and visualizes disagreement in survey results. Based on an index of disagreement algorithm, survey results are automatically aggregated into visualizations. Survey questions are displayed in descending order, with the questions that have received the most discrepant answers being placed on top. The researcher shows the visualizations to the survey participants in follow-up group conversations (dissent conversations) and uses the visualizations as focal points to guide the conversations. The visual display of disagreement spurs an exchange of interpretations and insights. Based on a study with 57 managers, we show that applying our system and method enables researchers and research participants to jointly produce interpretations that enrich survey results and revise correlational models. The system and the method introduced in this paper contribute toward improving collaborative thinking in groups by unpacking the reasons for disagreement, revealing unpopular truths and individual motivations and perceptions, and leveraging on cognitive diversity in knowledge creation.

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