Turn to the material: remote diagnostics and new forms of boundary-spanning
2009 (English)In: Information and organization, ISSN 1471-7727, E-ISSN 1873-7919, Vol. 19, no 4, 233-252 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
To learn and adapt, organizations engage widely in Information Technology (IT)-mediated boundary-spanning. This involves making sense of a swath of peripheral information made available by digital means so as to expand local knowledge. Prior research on boundary-spanning has paid scant attention to material differences between IT systems in enabling or constraining such activity. In this article, we argue that material features do matter: features afforded by IT systems have a significant impact on the form and content of boundary-spanning. We analyze material features and related affordances provided by remote diagnostics systems – a family of ubiquitous IT systems. These features allow remote diagnostics systems to collect, store, and continuously analyze data about the state of machinery and related production processes across space, time and organizational boundaries. Organizations use these systems to determine when maintenance intervention is needed, or to improve their production processes. Often, these systems are run by external service providers at remote sites, which become the new ears and the eyes of a focal organization’s production processes. Building on a longitudinal multi-site case study of two organizations, we explore the impacts of remote diagnostics systems on boundary-spanning. We observe that material features afforded by the remote diagnostics led the organizations to change their boundary-spanning in contradictory ways. On one hand, they reinforced existing boundaries. On the other hand, they crossed or cut down others, or created new ones. This suggests that the material features of these systems, when combined with new knowledge creation and sharing practices, within and between the local and the remote sites generate richer, multifaceted inter-organizational knowledge flows. We surmise that IT’s new material features will continue to significantly shape organizing logics that determine where and when organizational boundaries are drawn and crossed. Future boundary-spanning will increasingly be shaped by socio-technical assemblages brought together by increasingly pervasive IT capabilities.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 19, no 4, 233-252 p.
remote diagnostics systems, boundary-spanning, ubiquitous computing, maintenance work
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26912DOI: 10.1016/j.infoandorg.2009.07.001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-26912DiVA: diva2:274757