To understand how collaborative work practices emerge and evolve throughout activities, the purpose of this paper is to comprehend the making of compromises from a process view. Compromises are here understood as constantly evolving throughout activities.
The author relies on the Actor-Network Theory to define two dynamics participating in the making of compromises: the translation and the association. These two dynamics are then illustrated with a case study about the development of a Human Resource Management device that took place in a bank in Luxembourg. From this case, the author focuses on the emergence of various compromises about the project’s purpose.
Based on the insights brought by the theoretical framework and case studies, compromise is understood as a temporary result of the translations and associations between humans and non-humans. Compromise is also anything that is shared by actors (meaning, categories, objectives, etc). that enables them to make their collective activity possible. This process view of compromises makes three contributions: it fully recognizes that compromise is not stable but situated in practices, it highlights the mediating role of compromises and it insists on the interrelation between compromises throughout the activity.
The matter of compromise has mainly been studied from a moral standpoint as a stable agreement, whatever the context. This article also provides an alternative approach to understanding compromise as situated in practices.
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