Interaction through boundary objects: controversy and friction within digitalization

Vincent Hocine Jean Fremont (Hogskolan i Gävle Institutionen for Ekonomi, Gävle, Sweden)
Jens Eklinder Frick (Hogskolan i Gävle Institutionen for Ekonomi, Gävle, Sweden)
Lars-Johan Åge (Hogskolan i Gävle Institutionen for Ekonomi, Gävle, Sweden)
Aihie Osarenkhoe (Hogskolan i Gävle Institutionen for Ekonomi, Gävle, Sweden)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Publication date: 4 February 2019



The purpose of this paper is to analyze friction and controversies with interaction processes and their effects on forming new resource interfaces, through the lens of boundary objects.


The empirical setting consists of two organizations that are trying to enhance their competitive advantage through digitalization. During the process of data collection four different boundary objects were identified. The study illustrates how these boundary objects were characterized in terms of their modularity, standardization, abstractness and tangibility. This paper provides an analysis of how respondents perceived that the development of these boundary objects affected the creation of novel resource interfaces, and the resulting friction and controversy between new and old structures.


The study concludes that within a producer–user setting a focal boundary object will take on tangible and standardized properties, and the interaction process will expose friction in terms of both power struggles and resource incompatibilities. On the other hand, a boundary object’s modularity gives the actors central to the interaction room to maneuver and avoid resource incompatibilities and the development setting will hence be characterized by controversies.


The analysis indicates that the way individuals perceive boundary objects is central to interaction processes, answering calls for studies that investigate the role of objects within subject-to-object interaction.



Fremont, V., Frick, J., Åge, L. and Osarenkhoe, A. (2019), "Interaction through boundary objects: controversy and friction within digitalization", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 111-124.

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