The History of IFIP Working Group 8.6 on the Transfer and Diffusion of IT


In 1991, Priscilla Fowler and Linda Levine (both of SEI, CMU) engaged in conversations with two SEI senior staff members about IFIP, its role, technical committees, and how IFIP accomplished its work through working groups. These conversations were with Len Bass and Mario Barbacci both of whom were active in IFIP, especially with TC 2 on Software. Priscilla and I were working on an SEI R&D project on technology transfer and diffusion of innovations and Len and Mario encouraged us to propose a new IFIP working group in this area. We were already committed to attending and presenting a paper at the upcoming IFIP World Congress at Madrid, and so we considered how we might approach this challenge, explore the possibilities and make contact with potential sponsors.

We identified several stakeholders. First, we discovered that Brian Oakley (Logica) was offering a short workshop on co-operative R&D and so we sent an advance email to make contact with him, given our shared interests. We arranged to attend Brian’s session and meet. Second, we identified two Technical Committees where a proposed group on Diffusion and Transfer might be of interest—within TC 2 (Software) and TC 8 (information Systems)—and we sent advance emails to communicate our interest and to request meetings with the respective TC Chairs, Peter Poole and Gordon Davis. At the IFIP World Congress, we met with both Peter and Gordon. In the case of TC8, we were invited to their working meeting to discuss our proposal for a new WG on Diffusion, Transfer and Implementation of Information Technology. The discussion was quite lively and energetic, exploring the shared interests and overlap with WG 8.2 (Information Systems and Organizations) and how a new WG on diffusion might bring more practitioners to the largely academic IFIP forum. This was in keeping with the SEI’s mission and concentration on improving the state of the practice of software engineering. In the end, it became clear that TC 8 was a better match (than TC 2) and Priscilla and I received approval to hold a working conference which would, ideally, demonstrate interest in this area. If such a conference was successful in demonstrating interest and need—including the breadth and importance of the subject area — then IFIP would consider supporting the official establishment of a new working group. This process is typically how IFIP formally charters its new groups.

Formation of the Working Group

Over the next eighteen months, an IFIP working conference was planned on Diffusion, Transfer & Implementation of Information Technology, in cooperation with the SEI and the Committee on Software Engineering of the IEEE Computer Society. The event was held October 10-13, 1993 at Champion, PA, in the area also referred to as Seven Springs. The event was very successful attracting over 120 academics and practitioners from around the globe. Gordon Davis welcomed the attendees and Priscilla Fowler (Program Chair) opened the event with an overview. Three presentation tracks ran throughout. The format was atypical and allowed for afternoon outdoor activity: scheduled breaks were held from 3:30-6:00pm so participants might admire the Fall foliage, followed by dinner, and then six working sessions that were held on both evenings. Keynotes were given by

- Larry Lien (Training and Operations, U.S) on Quantifying the Difficulty of Transferring Technologies From Developed to Developing Industrial and Commercial Environments
- Bernard Glasson (Curtin University, AU) on ISTRAD: Toward a National Information System and Technology and Research and Development Association
- Rainer Zimmerman (ESSI, EU) on European Systems and Software Initiative: An Approach to Improving Software Quality and Productivity on a Wider Scale.

All attendees received a conference binder with all submissions. However, the proceedings was distributed after the event, early the following year, so that it might include written summaries of the working group sessions. This proceedings was published as: Levine, L. (Ed.). (1994). Diffusion, Transfer, & Implementation of Information Technology. Proceedings of the IFIP TC8 Working Conference on Diffusion, Transfer and Implementation of Information Technology. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Netherlands: North-Holland, Elsevier Science Publishers.

Not long after, in 1994, the new IFIP WG 8.6 on Diffusion Transfer and Implementation was chartered by Technical Committee 8 and the IFIP General Assembly.

The first official working conference on Diffusion and Adoption of Information Technology was held October 14-17, 1995 at Leangkollen, Oslo, Norway, organized by Karlheinz Kautz, Jan Pries Heje, Tor J Larsen, and Pal Sorgaard.

Chairs of WG8.6
The first working group Chair was Priscilla Fowler who served just short of two terms. She was followed by Karlheinz Kautz who also served two terms. Karl was followed by Linda Levine, who also served two term as Chair. The current chair is Professor Deborah Bunker.