Building on Disagreement Visually

The System and the Method

(The PHAZON case study can be found here)

Research paper, Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems 2018, June 23rd – 28th 2018 / Portsmouth, UK
Elitsa Alexander, University of St.Gallen, St.Gallen, Switzerland, elitsa.alexander[at]
Martin J. Eppler, University of St.Gallen, St.Gallen, Switzerland, martin.eppler[at]
Alice Comi, Kingston University London, London, UK, a.comi[at]


In this paper we introduce an information system and a research method that use disagreement in order to provide value adding insights relevant for research and work practice. The system includes an innovative electronic survey platform which reports and visualizes disagreement in survey results. Based on an index of disagreement algorithm, survey results are automatically aggregated into visualizations. Survey questions are displayed in descending order, with the questions that have received the most discrepant answers being placed on top. The researcher shows the visualizations to the survey participants in follow-up group conversations (dissent conversations) and uses the visualizations as focal points to guide the conversations. The visual display of disagreement spurs an exchange of in-terpretations and insights. Based on a study with 57 managers, we show that applying our system and method enables researchers and research participants to jointly produce interpretations that enrich survey results and revise correlational models. The system and the method introduced in this paper contribute toward improving collaborative thinking in groups by unpacking the reasons for disagreement, revealing unpopular truths and individual motivations and perceptions, and leveraging on cog-nitive diversity in knowledge creation.

Keywords: Disagreement, Conversations, Enriching Survey Results

© 2018, mcm – Institute for Media and Communications Management, UniSG