Introduction: Work practice analysis at xerox

Margaret H. Szymanski, Jack Whalen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword / postscriptpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


One commonly tends to avoid making “obvious” observations because it is not obvious what thereafter is to be done with them…. Rather, we need to see that with some such mundane recurrences we are picking up things which are so overwhelmingly true that if we are to understand that sector of the world, they are something we will have to come to terms with. And, as it happens, they are a tremendous resource. Making work visible – discovering and describing how people accomplish their tasks, how work actually gets done – reveals what was previously hidden, albeit in plain view. As work practice analysts, our job is to make unbiased observations despite business goals or technology design requirements. If we do our job well, our insights are obvious in retrospect, but by making those insights visible, they become a resource, and we are able to build on them. More than 30 years ago, Xerox pioneered the involvement of social science researchers from anthropology and sociology in the innovation and design of technology and better ways of working. Today, Xerox supports social science groups at three research centers: the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), located in the heart of California's Silicon Valley; Xerox Research Center Webster (XRCW, just outside Rochester in upstate New York; and Xerox Research Centre Europe (XRCE), in Grenoble, France.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaking Work Visible
Subtitle of host publicationEthnographically Grounded Case Studies of Work Practice
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780511921360
ISBN (Print)9780521190725
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

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