Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Knowledge practices in design: The role of visual representations as 'epistemic objects'

By B. Ewenstein and J. Whyte

Abstract

We use a detailed study of the knowledge work around visual representations to draw attention to the multidimensional nature of `objects'. Objects are variously described in the literatures as relatively stable or in flux; as abstract or concrete; and as used within or across practices. We clarify these dimensions, drawing on and extending the literature on boundary objects, and connecting it with work on epistemic and technical objects. In particular, we highlight the epistemic role of objects, using our observations of knowledge work on an architectural design project to show how, in this setting, visual representations are characterized by a `lack' or incompleteness that precipitates unfolding. The conceptual design of a building involves a wide range of technical, social and aesthetic forms of knowledge that need to be developed and aligned. We explore how visual representations are used, and how these are meaningful to different stakeholders, eliciting their distinct contributions. As the project evolves and the drawings change, new issues and needs for knowledge work arise. These objects have an `unfolding ontology' and are constantly in flux, rather than fully formed. We discuss the implications for wider understandings of objects in organizations and for how knowledge work is achieved in practice

Publisher: SAGE Publications
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:11980

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. A Framework for Examining the Concept of Closure in Innovation Process'.
  2. A pragmatic view of knowledge and boundaries: boundary objects in new product development'.
  3. and On Paper: Visual representations, visual culture and computer graphics in design engineering.
  4. and transforming: An integrative framework for managing knowledge across boundaries'.
  5. Architects.
  6. Architects. London: Academy Editions.
  7. Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. doi
  8. beginnings. London: Blackdog Publishing.
  9. Beyond words: aesthetic knowledge and knowing in organizations'.
  10. Charting Time: Timelines as temporary boundary objects'. doi
  11. Configuring software, reconfiguring memories: the influence of integrated systems on the reproduction of knowledge and routines'.
  12. Crafting the virtual prototype: how firms integrate knowledge and capabilities across organisational boundaries'.
  13. Flexible Sketches and Inflexible Data Bases: Visual Communication, Conscription Devices, and Boundary Objects in Design Engineering'.
  14. From Organization Design to Organization Designing'. doi
  15. Going Mobile: Aesthetic Design Considerations from Calder and the Constructivists'.
  16. library extension at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: report for Stage E (Final Proposals). London: unpublished report.
  17. Notes on the theory of the actor-network: Ordering, strategy and heterogeneity'.
  18. Object lessons: Workplace artifacts as representations of occupational jurisdiction'.
  19. Objectual practice'. in The practice turn in contemporary theory, edited by
  20. On Organizations as they Happen.' Organization Studies, 27: 1863-1873. Ewenstein and Whyte 'Knowledge practices in design' Accepted version, final publication: http://oss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/30/1/07
  21. Postcards from the edge: Local communities, global programs and boundary objects'.
  22. Seeing Organizational Learning: A Cultural View'.
  23. Special issue: On the life of the object'.
  24. Special Issue: Workplace Studies'.
  25. Talking About Machines—Tenth Anniversary'. doi
  26. Talking about Machines:
  27. Teamworking and knowledge management: a review of converging themes'.
  28. Technology and social interaction: the emergence of 'workplace studies''.
  29. The body multiple: ontology in medical practice.
  30. The consequences of modernity.
  31. The discovery of grounded theory. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  32. The Domain of Images.
  33. The firm as a distributed knowledge system: A constructionist approach'.
  34. The practice turn in contemporary theory.
  35. The Reflective Practioner: How professionals think in action: Basic Books. doi
  36. The role of objects in design co-operation: communication through physical or virtual objects'. Computer Supported Cooperative Work 12/2: 145–151. Edward Cullinan Architects
  37. The structure of ill-structured solutions: boundary objects and heterogeneous distributed problem solving'.
  38. Toward a history of epistemic things: synthesizing proteins in the test tube. Stanford:
  39. Visualization and cognition: thinking with eyes and hands'.
  40. What engineers know and how they know it. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.