This paper examines the process of a modern mission agency's transition from desktop and server based systems to social media and cloud based solutions. Mission agencies have existed since the modern 1850s and represent early implementations of globally distributed collaborative groups. This study examines the process of one mission agency working through the transition to modern social computing to create and share knowledge between its home office, missionaries, donors, and churches. Because these agencies have unique religious affiliations, they are not normally accessible to external researchers.
This study provides a unique glimpse into the process of one mission as it has worked through this transition. The goal was to investigate the use of Web 2.0 technologies, social media, learning management system (LMS), and customer relationship management systems (CRM) type personnel systems within a globally distributed modern mission agency.
The theoretical perspectives of Pask's conversation theory, Wenger's communities of [SS1] practice, and Weick's sensemaking merged to form a multilevel epistemological framework to examine the social construction of knowledge in technical systems. A multiple case study approach was used where each system was its own case. Successes and failures were examined to look for commonalities and best practices. These systems were within a single organization sharing a common cultural and technical context. This context served as a control for these factors creating a natural experiment. Structured interviews were conducted with a wide range of individuals across all levels of the organization to collect data on the implementation and usage of these systems.
[SS1]It still seems a bit choppy. Perhaps include something like, these organizations will be reviewed in light of Pask’s conversation theory…
Keywords: mission agency, social media, constructivism, Gordon Pask, conversation theory, Karl Weick, sensemaking, Etienne Wenger, community of practice, participatory network