ELEMENT #3: THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS

Research Overview

As we move around the hub of the LLF, the next logical path sequence is considering as theoretical perspectives that are cogent in representing concepts, processes, and problems preeminent in NG supply chains. This path represents a more top- down path through the LLF. As we mentioned in the previous section, knowledge elicitation can be one basis (as a qualitative, bottom-up process) to reveal problems and expert’s articulation as to why a problem is occurring. This directly moves problems as cues for certain theories and hypotheses as to What is happening? As we have taken a living ecological worldview of complexity, necessarily the concepts from ecological psychology, situated cognition, and distributed collaborative work are invoked. We have classified these research areas within Distributed Cognition Theory (Holland et al., 2001), which is highly contextualistic.

As members of the College of 1ST, the notion of distributed information (in time, place, and form) permeates the theoretical turbine that powers thinking about how NG supply chains play out in the sociotechnical systems fabric they exist in. It is our vision that this area will be very coupled and connected to the data-information- knowledge enveloped and that makes the system percolate to new levels. Distributed information necessarily in supply chains points to distributed teamwork as a means to make actions happen. Therein, cognition that exists both internally and externally is necessary to gain the advantage and power to produce success. Another level closely related is information fusion wherein layers of information fold into and complement each other in unique ways to provide the common operation picture of the supply chain orchestration. Information also fits into the temporal facet of context, as it can arrive at different times, can be interdependent, can emerge into the future therein showing trends, or be distributed across past experiences.

We have used different threads within the distributed cognition purview to make sense out of what experts and ethnographic analyses can etch out. So threads of theoretical positions taken up within emergency crisis management, emergency medicine, cybersecurity awareness, and UAVs—as applied—may be useful for the natural gas exploitation and production as well. Some of these specific theoretical concepts and, in turn, independent variables that could play out in the current domain are transactive memory, hidden knowledge, time pressure, information sharing and retrieval, learning and knowledge acquisition, and transfer, trust, and automation.

The theoretical foundations underlying natural gas supply chains should be highly reflective of the environment and information that leads to specific work outcomes (albeit in abstract forms). When experimental studies are conducted to test theory then the goal is to provide premium ecological validity within the experiment. As we mentioned earlier problems tie theory together with practice. Therein, the problems experienced set the boundary constraints on what theoretical positions are most relevant and related.

Just as theories about how things work and are accomplished can come directly from the user (from knowledge elicitation element) it may derive from the standard scientific method as well. That is, document analysis and literature review also provide a rich bandwidth of knowledge about a specific research area (in this case natural gas supply chains or related near neighbors). A document analysis is specified in other methods of cognitive systems engineering (Rasmussen, 1986; Vicente, 1999), but literature review remains the standard bearer for the scientific discovery process as it presents sound results from other researchers that inform problems associated with the theory or hypotheses one has in mind to study. Theories are tested and evaluated through the use of experiments (qualitative, quantitative, and design) in unique but sound means. In this way this element has natural vectors into the scaled world and the design prototype LLF elements.

 
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