Some analysts thinking about collaboration at the stage of research dissemination are thinking about both how to engage with community to share research results (Liboiron et al. 2018) while others are thinking about digital infrastructures for the circulation of research outputs (Griffin and Hayler 2018; Kenner 2014; Javenpaa and Staples 2000). Drawing heavily on science studies and post-human and material turns, Griffin and Hayler (2018) highlighted how tools are never neutral and so argue that digital tools, like technicians and crowds, should be "more rightly thought of as collaborators, whether they are conceived of as such by their users or not." Despite their focus on computer-based technologies' use in facilitating organizational information sharing, Jarvenpaa and Staples (2000), two business scholars, miss on a material analysis of the collaboration at the level of the human-computer, rather, they focus on the human-to-human levels without noting the important (non-neutral) role of the computer. Griffin and Hayler (2018) also make an important point that others have missed - that some of the collaborators within an endeavor can become marginalized through the denigration of certain kinds of expertise, since “power structures both within and beyond the immediate interactions can lead to the work of one or more collaborators being reduced or going uncredited, and to the detriment of their institutional and subject standing.” This is an important nuance and distinct from the point that many have made about the institutional disincentives to collaborate (which favor individual publications and outputs). This point highlights the differential stakes and gains from a collaborative formation.
Kenner (2014) highlighted that digital infrastructures can be a convergence point for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Like others within the annotated set, Kenner holds that open and regular interactions help to make the collaborative formation and the infrastructure itself better. She noted that the increase in open-access journal–university library partnerships is a crucial step towards reconfiguring the political economy of scholarly publishing. But as Griffin and Hayler (2018) point out, there is still currently a disconnect between collaboration becoming a demand for humanities scholars and the fact that many types of research audits continue to predominantly consider individual outputs (this is also noted by Choy et al. 2009).
Jarvenpaa and Staples (2000) note that as people's jobs and roles become defined by the unique information they hold, they may be less likely to share that information -- viewing it as a source of power and indispensability -- rather than more so. This is particularly interesting as this is a phenomenon that I and my interlocutors have noted happening outside of an organizational context and more broadly in the Kenyan tech scene over time; recognizing that their information and social capital and networks are becoming increasingly valuable to others (many of the new arrivals to Nairobi who are trying to find their footing in Kenyan tech) those who have been there for a while are not sharing their ideas and contacts as freely. I anticipate this may also play out in how the various organizations decide what data to share or not share and how "open" to be. If they perceive that there could be valuable data held by another party, then they might be more willing to share their own. It will be interesting to see how more economic model of "rational self-preservation" interacts with organizational commitments to sharing and openness and also moral claims to being "good" researchers and how those claims are influenced by ideas or perceptions about "international standards" and "local context.”
This essay is part of a broader orals document querying collaborative formations. Works were categorized under one part of the “research life cycle” as a heuristic. Sub-essays within the orals doc can be accessed directly through the following links: Research Design (Artifacts | Analysis); Data Gathering and Production (Artifacts | Analysis); Data Analysis (Artifacts | Analysis); Artifact Production (Artifacts | Analysis); Dissemination (Artifacts | Analysis); Political Practice (Artifacts | Analysis).