Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations

Research output: Book/ReportReport

Abstract

In the literature, management of uncertainty is argued to be a central feature of effective project management. Global network organizations can involve people with different genders, personality types, cultures, first languages, social concerns, and/or work experiences. Such differences can lead to ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty. Ontological uncertainty involves different parties in the same interactions having different conceptualizations about what kinds of entities inhabit their world; what kinds of interactions these entities have; how the entities and their interactions change as a result of these interactions. Semantic uncertainty involves different participants in the same interactions giving different meanings to the same term, phrase and/or actions. Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty can lead to intractable misunderstandings between people. In this VTT Working Paper, findings are reported from a study investigating manifestations ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations. The study built upon that reported in VTT Working Paper 67 (2006). In this study, conceptual factors and linguistic factors related to these types of uncertainty were further investigated. In addition, presentational factors related to these types of uncertainty were investigated for the first time. Then, characteristics of network organization communications were examined. Next, twenty-three documented cases were analysed. Consideration of findings from the case analyses suggests that costly unintended consequences, ranging from project delays to project abandonment, can arise from ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty. Further, consideration of findings suggests conceptual factors are much more important than presentational factors and linguistic factors in these types of uncertainty. Furthermore, findings suggest that global network organization communications can be complex, and involve much uncertainty, even though they involve only relatively few parties. Recommendations for minimizing ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty are discussed, and summarized in two templates
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages122
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7163-5
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesVTT Working Papers
Number102

Fingerprint

communication
project management
gender
project
recommendation
world

Keywords

  • ontological uncertainty
  • semantic uncertainty
  • communication vagueness
  • communication ambiguitiy
  • communication validity
  • communication reliability
  • conceptual
  • presentational
  • linguistic

Cite this

Fox, S. (2008). Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations. Espoo: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT Working Papers, No. 102
Fox, Stephen. / Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations. Espoo : VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2008. 122 p. (VTT Working Papers; No. 102).
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Fox, S 2008, Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations. VTT Working Papers, no. 102, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo.

Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations. / Fox, Stephen.

Espoo : VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2008. 122 p. (VTT Working Papers; No. 102).

Research output: Book/ReportReport

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Fox S. Ontological uncertainty and semantic uncertainty in global network organizations. Espoo: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2008. 122 p. (VTT Working Papers; No. 102).