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Enabling high reliability of network infrastructure; an explorative study to map and monitor appropriate motivations and forms of knowledge that enable reliability

Alink, Thijs (2010) Enabling high reliability of network infrastructure; an explorative study to map and monitor appropriate motivations and forms of knowledge that enable reliability.

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Abstract:The internet has become a vital element in modern society and modern business. Ensuring that it functions properly has become a crucial task. The internet needs a tough infrastructure to function well. The digital economy depends on this infrastructure for sharing any type of content. The internet infrastructure is created and managed by a variety of companies. This study focuses on one of these companies, namely the hosting provider Oxilion. The company, like any hosting provider, offers a service that allows businesses to store and publish any type of data on the internet. These businesses are in need of a reliable partner and expect that Oxilion’s service is always up and running. These customer expectations pressure Oxilion to manage its complex network infrastructure extremely well. The infrastructure of Oxilion is designed to cope with failures, but it cannot handle unanticipated failures. When unanticipated failures occur, employees must be able to take appropriate action. However, what enables employees to take appropriate action? Additionally, how should this be monitored? One assumes that by taking appropriate action (behaviour) employees can eliminate threats to reliability. Their actions are influenced by their motivation and their knowledge. An individual’s attitude and perceived subjective norms (collectively called motivation) guide the way in which an individual evaluates alternative courses of action and consequently the way he or she behaves. An individual’s knowledge specifies the potential range of actions that he or she can take and consequently potential behaviour. Based on Oxilion’s practical problem and the proposed assumptions, three research goals were drafted. First, this study aims to describe what knowledge and motivations are needed to create appropriate behaviour. Second, this study aims to provide a ‘tool’ that can be used to monitor reliability, behaviour, motivation and knowledge. Third, this study aims to describe how Oxilion can learn from the information gathered by monitoring reliability. The study uses a concurrent transformative mixed method design encompassing six data collection methods. The research diary method is the primary method for collecting data. Data collection spanned a period of four months (April – July 2010). The length of the data collection period and its broad spectrum resulted in a wealth of data. This data was analysed descriptively and by means of the qualitative data analysis method developed by Creswell (2009). This method involves coding data. During the analysis it became clear that not all possible interactions of Oxilion’s complex and changing technology could be understood and anticipated to. As a result, employees were often Enabling high reliability of network infrastructure – Thijs Alink V ‘trouble-­‐shooting’, meaning that they were containing the effects of incidents that had already occurred. This mode of realizing reliability requires a special configuration of motivations and knowledge. First of all, it requires appropriate containment motivations that focus on resilience. Three classes of motivations demonstrated to be especially important, namely: (1) motivations regarding diagnosis and resolution, (2) motivations regarding communication and collaboration, and (3) motivations regarding knowledge development and sharing. Second, two forms of experiential knowledge were required: (1) a complex set of understandings and experiences regarding a technology to interpreted signals of a failure correctly and (2) an acquaintance with an entity to effectively acquire information (propositional knowledge) about the diagnoses and resolution of incidents. In order to realize high reliability, Oxilion should not only be able to create appropriate motivation and knowledge (and thereby behaviour and reliability), the organization should also to monitor any changes in the variables. Motivation and knowledge, the aspects that enable appropriate behaviour, should be monitored by a half-­‐yearly internal survey and half-­‐yearly assessment respectively. Both monitoring tools should be tailored to the motivations and forms of knowledge needed by Oxilion. These motivations and forms of knowledge were discussed above. The information gathered with the monitoring tools can be used to decide whether initiatives for improvement should be deployed and, if so, on what aspects these initiatives should focus. Reliability should be monitored by archiving threats to reliability. Each threat should be registered and stored in an incident database. This information could be used to determine the reliability level of Oxilion. Additionally, the information stored in the database could be used for learning purposes. By reusing stored resolution strategies the organization could achieve more effective error-­‐ correction (single-­‐loop learning). By innovating and combining stored resolution strategies the organization could develop new resolution strategies (double-­‐loop learning). The insights provided by the monitoring tool might lead to an adjustment in learning style and consequently deutero learning (learning to learn). To sum up, in order to realize reliability, Oxilion should use a tool that consists out of three sub tools: (1) an incident database to monitor reliability and facilitate learning, (2) a half-­‐yearly internal survey to monitor motivation and (3) a half-­‐yearly assessment to monitor experiential knowledge.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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