Program on Applied Coordination Technology (PAKT)

PAKT is a five-year cross-disciplinary research program established in 1993. Founders of the program are Statoil, Norwegian Telecom Research, and the University of Trondheim. The present budget is approximately NOK5 mill per year.

PAKT is intended to be an arena for creative cooperation between professionals from industry and academia, working out strategic solutions to coordination problems for industry and trade. The core activity is a doctorate program within a range of problems in applied coordination technology. The program will employ about 15 doctoral and graduate students.

Coordination is a holistic approach to the management of interdependencies between activities, actors, resources and responsibilities in complex organisations striving to achieve a common set of goals.

The research focus in PAKT is the oil/gas industry, regarding the development and production of a license (i.e. an oil/gas field) as a coordination process.

Coordination technology is the knowledge about methods, techniques and tools for coordination. Networked, multimedia computers are considered as a new medium for coordination, enabling improved communication across large teams of people, and new ways of organising work.

In PAKT, coordination technology comprises three basic components:

The research focuses on engineering, characterised by large projects involving many disciplines, with strong interdependencies between activities and actors, and relying on complex information and communication structures.

An important aspect of PAKT is to develop a novel concept for cross-disciplinary collaboration within the university. This assignment is itself a coordination problem, which is not easily resolved within the traditional, academic ways of work.

We emphasise participation in the international community of research and development, and want to establish relationships with other universities and research institutes working in various aspects of coordination technology.

PAKT project requirements

The research projects in PAKT are still in the definition phase, and the first bundle of projects will be defined during the fall of 1993. To be accepted, a project has to meet a set of five requirements in order to support the basic ideas of PAKT:

Five project areas have been identified, and are now in the definition phase:

Network organisations

A network organisation is an organisation where the various parts have more and looser connections than in the ordinary, hierarchical organisational structure. Several cooperating companies may also form a network organisation, e.g. one manufacturer and several suppliers.

One of the major advantages of the network organisation is the flexibility in adapt to turbulent market situations. The flexibility of an organisation is determined by the relationships between the individual parts, and the distance to the decision making authority.

The research on network organisations is intended to develop a scientific understanding of this knowledge domain, but at the same time apply the research to practical targets in real-world organisations.

The research object to be addressed is an oil production platform and its supporting functions. By focusing on the production platform, one may discover the needs for communication with other units, and what competence and other supplies they need. Emphasis is on the platform's cooperation with the surrounding supporting organisation, and various approaches will be taken (descriptive, analytic, normative and prescriptive).

The project will address technological as well as organisational aspects of coordination in network organisations.

Enterprise modelling

Enterprise modelling denotes the modelling of work processes, products, and organisations. The organisation possesses resources and control mechanisms, and forms the environment for execution of the work processes, and development and production of the products or services.

This project is carried out in close cooperation with the Caesar Offshore program, where all the major companies in the Norwegian oil/gas industry are partners. Caesar Offshore addresses the use of digital information and communication, with emphasise on improved work processes and a life-cycle perspective on the information management.

Modelling is one of the fundamental engineering techniques for describing, analysing, and understanding the behaviour of complex, dynamic systems. In PAKT focus is on digital modelling, that is models that can be represented, manipulated and analysed by use of computers.

The Enterprise Modelling project addresses both basic concepts and methodology for enterprise modelling, and applications within the Norwegian offshore industry. The purpose of the application part is to develop better understanding of the work processes in engineering, construction and operations of offshore installations. Characteristics of this kind of enterprises are large and complex products, dynamic organisations, and increasing concurrency of the work processes, posing heavy requirements for efficient coordination.

Transfer of experiences and organisational learning

The scope of this project area is transfer of experiences and knowledge, learning and culture, as means of coordination in complex organisations. This includes the capture, qualification, representation and dissemination of experiences related to technical systems and tasks. Some of the basic issues are:

New ways of working in coordination intensive structures

An increasing number of the tasks in a complex organisation appear as information- and coordination intensive. The organisation's capabilities to address these challenges, and develop organisational and technological solutions have substantial importance for quality and efficiency, and hence for competitiveness.

Coordination as a challenge may occur as a consequence of various situations like:

The development of an offshore oil/gas license is an example of an enterprise where all elements appear simultaneously.

Information technologies that may support coordination intensive activity include groupware, decision support systems, multimedia communication and distributed object management.

Experience has shown that the information systems will bring benefits only if the organisational context has been adopted to the technology, and if the involved participants have the necessary competence and the understanding of the entirety of the enterprise. This requires the proper combination of purposeful infra- and cognitive structures, common task understanding, communication skills and determination, consensus regarding the goals, and loyalty to the system.

Only the close coupling between people, tasks, organisation and technology can provide the synergy that present and future enterprises will demand.

This project is planned to use experimental installations of coordination technologies for implementing novel ways of working, and to study existing enterprises for the purpose of business process redesign.

Internal markets as a coordination mechanism

The theory of coordination through markets is built upon the conception that the individual actor's rational, value maximising endeavours sum up to rationality in terms of effective resource usage also at the aggregate level.

The establishment of an internal market inside an enterprise implies the subdivision of the organisation in individual business units that are expected to relate to each other as customers and suppliers.

The study of internal markets will focus on the effects, opportunities and limitations, and in particular address the following elements:

Contact address

Postal address: PAKT, N-7034 Trondheim, Norway
Visiting address: Øvre Alle 11, Trondheim
Phone: + 47 73 59 63 20, Fax: + 47 73 59 63 30,