Norm-based agency for designing collaborative information systems

Kecheng Liu[1], Lily Sun[1], Alan Dix[2] and Mohan Narasipuram[3]

[1]Staffordshire University, UK
[2]Lancaster University, UK
[3]City University of Hong Kong

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Full reference:

Kecheng Liu, Lily Sun, Alan Dix and Mohan Narasipuram (2001).
Norm-based agency for designing collaborative information systems.
Information Systems Journal 11, pp. 229-247.

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Information systems are organizations in which signs are created, processed and consumed. In order to fulfil the organizational goals and objectives, its members must understand their responsibilities and authorities, and must act co-operatively. The key to this organization and co-ordination lies in norms, which define responsibilities and authorities for each human agent, and establish regularities of behaviour. In the context of co-operative work, where 'intelligent' software agents are involved, to understand the norms of behaviour of various human agents becomes critical. Software agents can perform some tasks autonomously on the user's behalf. Such delegation involves a set of complicated philosophical and legal issues. After discussion on delineation of various boundaries of responsibility and authorities, this paper addresses normas and normative behaviour of human agents within an organization. It discusses the taxonomies of norms and a method of norm specification, with examples. Finally it presents an approach of norm-based agency for designing collaborative information systems and a case study of an insurance claim for illustration.

keywords: agency, collaborative information systems, normative behaviour, norms, semiotics, systems design

Alan Dix 12/7/2001