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A Manufacturing Collaboratory Case Study - Companion Document



E E. Wierba, Amy Knutilla, Michelle P. Steves


This report summarizes a case study of a collaborative tool intervention within a geographically-distributed, product-development team of an automotive parts supplier. This report serves as a companion document to a larger, more detailed volume, prepared as the final report to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by the University of Michigan (UM), A Manufacturing Collaboratory Case Study. In this research, an application sharing tool, NetMeeting, was deployed after an in-depth analysis of the team's collaboration requirements. Team members perceived as early technology adopters were trained in the tool use. Using pre- and post- intervention surveys and interviews, UM researchers examined levels of adoption, use of the collaborative tool, and the relationship between tool use and changes in team performance. Results indicate that a small proportion (1/3) of the team used NetMeeting, and that NetMeeting users described a positive impact of this tool on their collaborative work. Low adoption rates may have been due to key features of NetMeeting, such as synchronous application sharing, not being as valuable as expected for collaborations that spanned time zones. These features were more widely used for local collaborations. Furthermore, workarounds already in use within the team, such as transmitting engineering drawings as email attachments, may have been sufficient to inhibit exploration and adoption of alternative collaboration tools even when the newly introduced tools had desirable features as described by the users. Results are discussed in terms of the adoption, use, impact of collaboration tools, techniques for assessment and evaluation of collaboration tools, and practical recommendations for users. While adoption was lower than expected and the impact on team performance was mixed, there was an abundance of information useful to researchers and users of tools for collaboration. This report provides an executive summary followed by a companion document to the full 170+ page report prepared by UM for NIST. This document provides the interested reader with an overview of the research, as well as pointers into the full report for complete detail.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6809
Report Number


collaboration technologies, collaborative tool adoption, CSCW, NetMeeting


Wierba, E. , Knutilla, A. and Steves, M. (2001), A Manufacturing Collaboratory Case Study - Companion Document, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed June 13, 2024)


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Created March 31, 2001, Updated October 12, 2021