Date of Award

Spring 1995

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Fred Steier

Committee Member

James Baesler

Committee Member

Barry Clemson

Committee Member

Billie Reed


Group work creates concerns with respect to performance, collaboration, and conflict management. Writing technical proposals creates appropriate settings for gaining insight into work group efficiencies and project conflict. The research involved different work groups preparing responses to Federal Government solicitations. A proposed Process/Product model was applied to create a new framework and perception of the technical proposal development effort. There exists a rich dialectic between the forces of Process, (how the effort is accomplished), and, Product, (what the effort will produce.) The investigation attempted to learn if the P/P model provides explanations for project conflict during technical collaborative writing.

The investigation examined the nature of the dependence and independence associated with Process choices and Product choices in industry. The research studied Semi-Autonomous Work Groups developing technical responses to three different Federal Government Solicitations. Technical proposal development efforts in a Federal Government environment span a relatively short development cycle. Work group activity involves the direct collaborative writing participation of work group members, conducting the engineering management functions of planning and producing proposal documents. The research findings suggest that the results of this special case investigation could provide a research basis for other work group collaborative writing and technical activities.

The research method used was participative observation conducted in a semiovert manner (during the proposal development project) combined with an overt investigation (after the project) to generate orienting theory that will advance the state of knowledge regarding the management of project conflict during collaborative work group technical proposal development. The research included conducting a semistructured interview after each project completion to learn if participants perceived that they witnessed conflict and to describe its nature. The researcher interpreted the comments associated with conflict in terms of the Process/Product model to learn whether the model provides explanations of conflict or dissatisfaction in this collaborative technical writing setting. An analysis of researchers' dual role as a participant in the work group and an observer is also included in this study.

Significant findings include that the process/product model, like other engineering management paradigms, provided a pragmatic perspective for practicing managers concerned with collaborative technical writing conflict. The findings also suggest these are robust opportunities for additional research in collaborative technical writing from perspectives which extends beyond predominant process orientations.