Beyond the wall of contract text - Visualizing contracts to foster understanding and collaboration within and across organizations

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dc.contributor Aalto-yliopisto fi
dc.contributor Aalto University en
dc.contributor.author Passera, Stefania
dc.date.accessioned 2017-07-10T09:02:54Z
dc.date.available 2017-07-10T09:02:54Z
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.identifier.isbn 978-952-60-7528-0 (electronic)
dc.identifier.isbn 978-952-60-7529-7 (printed)
dc.identifier.issn 1799-4942 (electronic)
dc.identifier.issn 1799-4934 (printed)
dc.identifier.issn 1799-4934 (ISSN-L)
dc.identifier.uri https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/27292
dc.description.abstract In an increasingly networked world, contracts are the glue of business. Contracts are not only legal safeguarding instruments to limit parties' opportunism, as argued by transaction cost economics (TCE). They can be managerial tools to create shared understanding and cooperation among the cross-professional stakeholders who plan, negotiate, and implement contracts – within and across organizations. However, contract documents often do not work well for this purpose: they are long, complex, and hard to understand. As a result, costly misunderstandings arise, since contracts are not optimized for their everyday users: business and technical audiences. The proactive law approach stresses the importance of clear cross-professional communication through contracts to prevent legal problems and seek win-win opportunities. A practical manifestation of this principle is contract visualization – the use of diagrams, images, and visually structured layouts to make contracts more searchable, readable, and understandable. The aim of this study is to provide empirical understanding of the emerging concept and practice of contract visualization – by rigorously testing the propositions about its benefits, by exploring it as a practice unfolding in real life, and by identifying viable approaches for managers and legal counsel to engage with visualization. I chose a mixed methods approach to explore this emerging topic. The quantitative component of the research comprises three experiments, which show that visualized contracts support superior comprehension performance (speed, accuracy) and user preference, compared to informationally equivalent textual contracts. The qualitative component of the research – a single case study – explores how and why an operation and maintenance service sales team decided to employ visualization in their contracts: visualization was sought as a solution to cross-professional, inter-organizational and temporal knowledge gaps, as it allows information to be clarified and positively frames the emerging business relationship. Two conceptual studies exploring visualization approaches (design pattern libraries and automation) complement the empirical studies. The research contributes to the scarce and insufficiently rigorous empirical literature on contract visualization, and to the literature on the psychological effects of contracts and microdynamics of contracting. Theoretically, it suggests a theoretical shift from a TCE-view of contracts to a knowledge-based view of contracts, where the knowledge created and shared through contract documents is a source of competitive advantage. Moreover, it extends the application of cognitive load theory beyond the educational psychology field. The research also has practical implications for global business: visualization was found to especially improve contract comprehension among non-native speakers of English. en
dc.format.extent 221 + app. 171
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Aalto University en
dc.publisher Aalto-yliopisto fi
dc.relation.ispartofseries Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS en
dc.relation.ispartofseries 134/2017
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 1]: Haapio, H. & Passera, S. (in press). Contracts as interfaces: Exploring visual representation patterns in contract design. In M. J. Katz, R.A. Dolin & M. Bommarito (Eds.) Legal Informatics, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Published ahead of print, 37 pages
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 2]: Passera, S. (2015). Beyond the wall of text: How information design can make contracts user-friendly. In: A. Marcus (Ed.), Design, User Experience, and Usability: Users and Interactions (pp. 341–352). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-20898-5_33
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 3]: Passera, S. (in press) Flowcharts, swimlanes, and timelines – Alternatives to prose in communicating legal-bureaucratic instructions to civil servants. Journal of Business and Technical Communication. Published ahead of print, 32 pages. Publication III is based on Passera, S., Pohjonen, S., Koskelainen, K. & Anttila, S. (2013). User-Friendly Contracting Tools – A Visual Guide to Facilitate Public Procurement Contracting. In: J. Chittenden, ed., Proceedings of the 2013 IACCM Academic Forum for Integrating Law and Contract Management: Proactive, Preventive and Strategic Approaches. Ridgefield, CT: The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management, 74–94
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 4]: Passera, S., Kankaanranta, A. & Louhiala-Salminen, L. (2017). Diagrams in contracts: Fostering understanding in global business communication. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 60 (2). Advance online publication: DOI: 10.1109/TPC.2017.2656678
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 5]: Passera, S., Smedlund, A., & Liinasuo, M. (2016). Exploring contract visualization: Clarification and framing strategies to shape collaborative business relationships. Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, 2 (1–2), 69–100. Publication V is based on Passera, S., Smedlund, A., Liinasuo, M. & Aikala, M. (2015). Designing boundary objects for the sales of industrial services: How to support value co-creation through user experience (Working Paper). Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. DOI: 10.1177/2055563616669739
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 6]: Passera, S., Haapio, H. & Curtotti, M. (2014). Making the meaning of contracts visible – Automating contract visualization. In E. Schweighofer, F. Kummer & W. Hötzendorfer (Eds.), Transparency. Proceedings of the 17th International Legal Informatics Symposium IRIS 2014 (pp. 443–450). Wien, Austria: Österreichische Computer Gesellschaft
dc.subject.other Organisations, Corporations en
dc.subject.other Communication en
dc.title Beyond the wall of contract text - Visualizing contracts to foster understanding and collaboration within and across organizations en
dc.type G5 Artikkeliväitöskirja fi
dc.contributor.school Perustieteiden korkeakoulu fi
dc.contributor.school School of Science en
dc.contributor.department Tuotantotalouden laitos fi
dc.contributor.department Department of Industrial Engineering and Management en
dc.subject.keyword contracts en
dc.subject.keyword contract design en
dc.subject.keyword knowledge visualization en
dc.subject.keyword design patterns en
dc.subject.keyword communication en
dc.subject.keyword cognitive load en
dc.subject.keyword affordance en
dc.subject.keyword framing en
dc.subject.keyword proactive law en
dc.identifier.urn URN:ISBN:978-952-60-7528-0
dc.type.dcmitype text en
dc.type.ontasot Doctoral dissertation (article-based) en
dc.type.ontasot Väitöskirja (artikkeli) fi
dc.contributor.supervisor Järvenpää, Eila, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Finland
dc.opn Siedel, George J., Prof., University of Michigan, USA
dc.rev Bresciani, Sabrina , Assistant Prof., University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
dc.rev Berger-Walliser, Gerlinde, Assistant Prof., University of Connecticut, USA
dc.date.defence 2017-08-18


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