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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2012

Tina Karrbom Gustavsson and Hayar Gohary

Traditional construction project practice has been based on rigid and impermeable boundaries that have made communication, cooperation and integration a major challenge…

Abstract

Purpose

Traditional construction project practice has been based on rigid and impermeable boundaries that have made communication, cooperation and integration a major challenge. However, new collaborative approaches have been developed. This paper aims at adding to knowledge on projects‐as‐practice by interpreting findings from a case study on a contemporary collaborative construction project. The purpose of this paper is to provide knowledge about organizational development in the project‐based construction industry by identifying boundary actions in contemporary collaborative construction practices.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an exploratory longitudinal case study approach covering both early design phase and the following production phase, including interviews, participant observation at formal meetings and informal gatherings and internal and external documents. Thus, the methodology used is triangulation and the analysis has followed an interpretative process.

Findings

The paper provides empirical insights into three examples of boundary actions of a collaborative construction project: stakeholder boundary action, professional boundary action and geographical boundary action. From a project‐as‐practice perspective, these boundary actions turn out to be interesting renewal initiatives, providing increased understanding of where and how renewal can take place.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on a single case study and more research on this area is needed. However, the paper shows examples of boundary actions in a contemporary project and thus adds to the knowledge on contemporary projects‐as‐practice.

Practical implications

The paper provides implications for construction project managers on examples of renewal arenas.

Originality/value

The paper is exploratory and the findings are important for much needed development and renewal of the construction industry.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 9 May 2008

Ewa Wikström

This purpose of this paper is to examine the ways in which one occupational group used boundary work to increase their influence and power with more influential…

Abstract

Purpose

This purpose of this paper is to examine the ways in which one occupational group used boundary work to increase their influence and power with more influential occupational groups in a medical setting.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative interview study is used to investigate an occupational group (hospital dieticians) as it tried to increase its influence in a setting of established occupational groups. Data were collected through semi‐structured interviews with dieticians and managers at a university hospital, and by the examination of selected hospital documents.

Findings

This study concludes that the dieticians' boundary work to become more influential in a setting of established groups was characterized by their boundary setting actions as inner dialogue and their boundary spanning actions as outer dialogue. In the inner dialogue, the dieticians established a professional group and a vocabulary for the continuous communication of their unique competence that could relate to the existing medical knowledge. In the outer dialogue, the dieticians structured and made sense of their setting by the labelling of roles as power entities and by using self‐images and metaphors.

Research limitations/implications

This research was designed to describe the dieticians' efforts and experiences in the studied setting. Therefore, the data provide access to one occupational group but not to the other groups in that setting. A second limitation is the absence of observations.

Practical implications

This research contributes to the knowledge of the relevance of practitioners involved in boundary work aimed at improving professional collaboration. The study is helpful in identifying important boundaries that facilitate the establishment of collaborative relationships, and the development of accounts, procedures and routines.

Originality/value

The research focuses on how influence on practice is constituted through boundary work.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 19 July 2011

Anu Kajamaa

The aim of this article is to examine whether the boundary between the separate worlds of evaluation and frontline work in a hospital can be overcome. The study provides…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this article is to examine whether the boundary between the separate worlds of evaluation and frontline work in a hospital can be overcome. The study provides an example of a rare, innovative creation process of an assessment tool in which the tool users and the tool producer participated. The article aims to widen the understanding of employee initiated organizational change efforts, co‐creation of boundary objects and organizational boundary breaking, which may lead to expansive learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The article takes an activity‐theoretical approach to organizational boundaries, viewing them as tension‐laden triggers for learning and change. The analysis of expansive learning actions is based on longitudinal ethnographic field data on a collaboration effort between nurses and evaluation professionals in a Finnish hospital.

Findings

The collaboration effort between two organizational worlds led to boundary breaking. Initially, expansive learning actions were taken, but then obstacles started to emerge, and the collaboration between the two worlds was not sustained. To be sustainable, the collaboration would have required both a shared assessment tool (i.e. a boundary object) and management support. In this case the latter was missing.

Originality/value

The study analyzes a solid boundary, which delimited organizational learning and development. Rather than boundary crossing, as understood in the current literature, the challenging collaboration effort took the shape of conflictual boundary breaking. The study contributes to the literature on organizational boundaries and learning and has implications on management of employee initiated change efforts, collective tool creation processes and development of quality work in the public sector.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2017

Annika Andersson and Berner Lindström

This study aims to investigate how boundary work is carried out at the incident site during exercises with police, ambulance and rescue services, and how boundary

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate how boundary work is carried out at the incident site during exercises with police, ambulance and rescue services, and how boundary awareness is developed based on this boundary work. Collaboration in emergency work is challenging on many levels. The unforeseen and temporary nature of incidents presents basic challenges. Another important challenge is boundaries between specialised and autonomous emergency service organisations. Knowledge on how exercises are performed to increase the individuals' and organisations' preparedness for future joint-response work is relatively limited.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirically, full-scale exercises involving police, ambulance and rescue services and with repetition of practical scenarios and joint-reflection seminars are studied. Interview data with 26 exercise participants were analysed using thematic analysis. The analytic focus is on how boundaries are identified, negotiated and managed in the participants’ work.

Findings

Much of the work in the exercises was performed within distinct areas of expertise, in accordance with concrete routines, skills and responsibilities. Boundary work was often organised in the form of distribution of labour or creating chains of actions. The exercises shed light on challenges related to other aspects of emergency response, such as a lack of resources, diverging primary responsibilities, time-criticality and hazardous environments. The design allowed participants to explicate boundaries, to test and discuss alternative solutions and to visualise the effects of different solutions, as the scenarios were repeated.

Originality/value

The study found that the boundaries that were identified were often of institutional character, and were also related to the specific scenarios and to the actions taken in the activities. By integrating real-life experiences of collaborative work in the exercise, the exercise gained a certain meaning that was essential for the participants to develop boundary awareness.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 4 February 2021

Andreas Schotter

The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical perspective on whether the boundary-spanner model and consequently complex disaggregated intra-MNE value chain…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical perspective on whether the boundary-spanner model and consequently complex disaggregated intra-MNE value chain activities are crisis resilient.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a conceptual theory development based on literature integration and phenomenological juxtaposing.

Findings

The need for boundary-spanning in assisting dispersed new and complex knowledge creation activities – which can hardly be replicated in virtual collaboration spaces alone – will endure if not even grow. This requires deeper understanding of boundary spanning in the context of the globally dispersed MNE. Increased location diversification engendered by COVID-19 implies a greater need for the boundary spanning function, not less.

Research limitations/implications

Regarding future research, the crisis provides a unique opportunity for taking a closer look at the formation, nurturing and resilience of interdependence, particularly behavioural interdependence and the actions and characteristics of individuals associated with [boundary spanning] actions. Specific research questions should focus on the boundary-spanning model in the virtual space; the characteristics and effects of temporality and the boundary-spanning model, the specific actions of boundary spanners during unforeseen events and the empirical testing of the relationships developed in Table 1.

Practical implications

For practitioners, I suggest avoiding compromising structural interdependence with defaulting on top-down hierarchical approaches during crises; and while doing so, not paying attention to the effects of such actions on behavioural interdependence and its champions (i.e. global boundary spanners). Such interference likely results in sub-optimal global collaboration outcomes and innovation, characterized by fundamentally recursive processes involving creativity, failure, reconfiguring, sensemaking and improvisation.

Social implications

TBC

Originality/value

The author develops a critical perspective to assess the crisis-resilience of the boundary-spanning model. In so doing, I juxtapose two contemporary views on the persistence or fading of the global MNE model, and hence, the future need for a socio-behavioural managerial function – like boundary-spanning – connecting dispersed MNE activities. The authors provide numerous avenues for advancing extant research on boundary-spanning in MNEs.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2012

Jacob D. Vakkayil

The article seeks to explore the various ways in which researchers have approached boundaries in relation to organizations.

Abstract

Purpose

The article seeks to explore the various ways in which researchers have approached boundaries in relation to organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is conceptual in nature and explores prominent strands of research into boundaries within and at the periphery of the organization through a selective literature analysis.

Findings

The paper introduces new categories in the way boundaries are conceptualized and explores how researchers can introduce these in their studies.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review is selective and provides an indication of how further work could be directed.

Practical implications

The work could be of use to those exploring the dynamics of organizational boundaries.

Originality/value

A few convergence zones in the literature are identified and a new categorization indicating the dichotomies inherent in the study of organizational boundaries is introduced.

Details

International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2014

Nils M. Høgevold, Göran Svensson, Beverly Wagner, Daniel J. Petzer, H.B. Klopper, Juan Carlos Sosa Varela, Carmen Padin and Carlos Ferro

The purpose of this paper is to describe: corporate reasons for, and organizational challenges of sustainable business models; and the evolution of economic effects…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe: corporate reasons for, and organizational challenges of sustainable business models; and the evolution of economic effects, social boundaries and environmental actions in sustainable business practices.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on insights gained from eight Norwegian companies in different industries. Purposeful sampling was employed to ensure that the companies had sustainable business models beyond the level of mere compliance, of sustainable business practices in the marketplace and society. A deductive approach to data collection ensured that the companies had sufficient understanding to relate their sustainable business practices to interviewers. The interviews were subsequently transcribed and analyzed systematically by the research team.

Findings

The empirical findings indicate evolutionary changes as companies move on a continuum from superficial to embedded sustainable business models and the application of sustainable business practices. The planning, implementation and evaluation of sustainable business models evolves over time within companies and their supply chains, as well as in the marketplace and society.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of this study is that it is exclusively undertaken in Norwegian companies, although the companies are from different industries with different characteristics. Future research is clearly necessary and will be conducted in other countries in similar industries, so as to explore the empirical findings from this study in other contexts. In addition, the interfaces between environmental actions, economic effects and social boundaries need to be investigated further.

Originality/value

The study contributes to a growing body of knowledge on corporate reasons for and organizational challenges of sustainable business models, as well as environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable business practices.

Details

Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5265

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Article
Publication date: 8 September 2014

Lena Lippke and Charlotte Wegener

The purpose of this paper is to explore how vocational teachers’ everyday practices can constitute innovative learning spaces that help students to experience engagement…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how vocational teachers’ everyday practices can constitute innovative learning spaces that help students to experience engagement and commitment towards education and thus increase their possibilities for completing their studies despite notable difficulties.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on two ethnographic field studies, we analyse vocational teaching situations in which teachers and students engage in daily remaking of the vocational educational training practice. It is argued that these everyday situations can be understood as innovative transformation of participation and practice.

Findings

The exploration of teachers’ practicing new learning spaces sheds light on innovation potential embedded in everyday educational practices. The paper thus challenges the celebration of radical innovation and argues that innovation emerges from everyday activities in which teachers succeed to balance continuities and discontinuities. Studying innovation as a balance between change and stability thus involves emerging, negotiated processes of learning and participation in everyday practices where people talk, interact and conduct their work and studies.

Practical implications

Based on the analysis, we argue that students’ engagement in education can be enhanced by transforming the educational settings on various parameters such as buildings, artefacts, emotions and experiences. Thus, innovation should be recognised as emerging everyday activities in which frontline workers like vocational teachers are drivers for innovation.

Originality/value

Innovative everyday activities are often invisible; however, we suggest that they can be studied and thus become visible by use of the analytic term: “boundary-pushing“.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 26 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2016

Teemu Laine, Tuomas Korhonen, Petri Suomala and Asta Rantamaa

This paper aims to elaborate the concepts of boundary subjects and boundary objects in constructing and communicating relevant accounting facts for managing product…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to elaborate the concepts of boundary subjects and boundary objects in constructing and communicating relevant accounting facts for managing product development (PD). Boundary subjects as reflective actors benefit effective accounting enactment, by building a shared understanding about different actors’ roles and information needs, and by helping to respond to these needs with new boundary objects.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a longitudinal interventionist case study of a machinery manufacturer. The focus of this case study was the production ramp-up phase at the end of a PD program. Different actors’ needs were first collected and elaborated by interventionist researchers (boundary subjects). Then accounting prototypes (boundary objects) provided new means of communication.

Findings

The findings show that dealing with boundaries is crucial in accounting development. The role of boundary subjects was fundamental in the process of choosing, constructing, elaborating and communicating accounting facts. During this process, accounting prototypes integrated new accounting facts, the boundary subjects mitigated the boundaries and the boundary objects focused and restricted communication about accounting facts.

Research limitations/implications

The paper tests the pragmatic constructivism approach by examining accounting enactment under uncertainty and ambiguity. The study refines pragmatic constructivism in terms of boundaries, boundary subjects as actors and boundary objects.

Practical implications

The intentional use of boundary subjects and objects as communication platform could push a more active inclusion of business controllers as active business partners.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the literature on accounting development by highlighting the use of boundary subjects and boundary objects as fundamental mechanisms in constructing and communicating accounting facts.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

David Tilson, Carsten S⊘rensen and Kalle Lyytinen

The exponential growth of digital technologies and their increased importance in both organizational and everyday life poses new challenges to paradox research within…

Abstract

The exponential growth of digital technologies and their increased importance in both organizational and everyday life poses new challenges to paradox research within management studies. Management scholars taking a paradoxical lens have predominantly focused on social paradoxes within the confines of the organization. Technological change has often been treated as an exogenous force bringing previously latent tensions to the fore. Such newly salient paradoxes are viewed as instigating managerial sensemaking and exploration of strategic responses that will re-establish equilibrium. Our investigation of how digital innovations disrupted London taxiwork and global music distribution shows something different. The paradoxical tensions raised by emerging digital technologies inevitably play out at industry and societal levels. Concomitant changes in boundaries, categories, and potentials for action that shape and channel ongoing industry transformation call for organizational responses and adaptation. Critically, such tensions must be interpreted within the context of industry arrangements absent a centrally controlling actor. Rather than episodes of exogenous change, the nature of the digital, along with interactions across multiple sources of agency, continually surface complex dynamic and systemic tensions within and across industries. Our findings highlight the importance of explicitly accounting for the inter-relatedness and mutual dependence of the social and technical elements of change. As digital innovation expands and starts to impact all aspects of human experience it is critical for management scholars to reflect how the paradoxical perspective can be expanded to better understand these contemporary large-scale changes.

Details

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

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