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Artifacts in interaction: The production and politics of boundary objects

By Robyn Thomas, Cynthia Hardy and Leisa Sargent


The aim of this exploratory study was to examine how boundary objects are produced and the role of power in this process. To do so, we investigated the use of boundary objects by managers to develop a customer oriented culture in a newly formed telecommunications company. The boundary object in question comprise an artifact – a culture toolkit that contains a brochure explaining the new culture – accompanied by a video of the CEO explaining the new culture and workshop instructions and guidance - and the workshops themselves. In addition to these sources of data, a series of follow up interviews were also conducted. Using discourse analysis, our findings suggest that an artifact can only be developed and maintained as a boundary object through the interactions of a range of actors as they negotiate its meaning. Thus, boundary objects depend upon the co-construction of meaning among actors, which, in order to be successful requires plasticity throughout the process. We also offer a framework for different ways of relating power to boundary objects, an often neglected yet critical issue

Topics: BF, HD28
Publisher: Advanced Institute of Management Research
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:
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