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Article
Publication date: 8 July 2014

Nick Hopwood

To explore the methodological implications of sociomaterial theory for qualitative research about practice. The purpose of this paper is to assess the potential and…

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the methodological implications of sociomaterial theory for qualitative research about practice. The purpose of this paper is to assess the potential and limitations of video stimulus to discussion about practice as embodied and material, and to theorise this in terms of epistemic objects.

Design/methodology/approach

A video based on a residential child and family service in Sydney was used as a stimulus in six focus group discussions with researchers and professionals in child and family health. Three focus groups were held in Sweden, and three in the British Isles, settings where a similar approach to supporting families with young children is established. A sociomaterial perspective, drawing on Schatzki's practice theory and Knorr Cetina's notion of epistemic objects informed the design and methodologically focused analysis.

Findings

The use of video is shown to be successful in facilitating and prompting participants to reflect and comment on practice as embodied and material. However, the analysis also accounts for more problematic nature of this approach, exploring the affective connections and illusion of totality that can be associated with video screenings. An alternative, based on line drawings, is suggested, and the paper concludes by raising further questions about data reduction and stimulus artefacts.

Originality/value

The turn to sociomaterial theory has huge potential, but its methodological implications remain unexplored. This paper contributes original perspectives relating to the use of video in a qualitative study, offering innovative theorisation and discussion of stimulus material as epistemic objects, which offers fresh insights into significant methodological prospects and problems.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Ingo Stolz

This study aims to analyze how organization development (OD) practitioners develop corporate citizenship for the purpose of increasing their organization’s capacity to…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to analyze how organization development (OD) practitioners develop corporate citizenship for the purpose of increasing their organization’s capacity to practice corporate citizenship. Research shows that very few corporations have the organizational capacity to practice corporate citizenship. Evidence exists that ever more corporations adopt programs of corporate citizenship development to increase this capacity. However, there still is a general lack of a strategic understanding of how corporate citizenship development occurs. The potential of OD frameworks and tools for developing corporate citizenship have been highlighted. Nevertheless, how OD practitioners develop corporate citizenship has not been studied empirically so far.

Design/methodology/approach

A sociomaterial case study design was used. The work of six OD practitioners when developing corporate citizenship in one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations was studied over several months, based on interviews, observations and document analyses.

Findings

The findings presented offer model practices of corporate citizenship development, in the form of five core strategies and five core behaviors that increase an organization’s capacity to practice corporate citizenship.

Research limitations/implications

With this study, the notion of corporate citizenship development has become established as a distinct research area. The study might encourage further research in this important niche area.

Practical implications

The findings have direct practical implications for at least seven different stakeholder groups.

Originality/value

The findings shed new light on both the epistemological and practical foundations of the concept of corporate citizenship, and hint to a new role of the fields of OD and human resource development in the twenty-first century.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 38 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 2 April 2019

Tove Lafton and Anne Furu

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how kindergarten, as a learning arena equal to a university college, creates learning spaces that engage or intervene in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how kindergarten, as a learning arena equal to a university college, creates learning spaces that engage or intervene in the professional learning of student teachers in early childhood education.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on narratives from students in work-based education.

Findings

The paper addresses the complexity of education by outlining how the concept of learning is applied in earlier research on work-based learning (WBL).

Research limitations/implications

This earlier understanding is complemented this with two theoretical lenses (sociocultural and sociomaterial thinking) to analyse a constructed narrative from the students.

Originality/value

The two theoretical positions open up to examine knowledge development and potentially enrich the picture of learning spaces in experiential WBL, going beyond the student as an individual learner.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

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Content available
Book part
Publication date: 1 May 2019

Henrik Buhl, Michael Andersen and Hannele Kerosuo

The construction industry is one of the least automated industries. In the aspect of automation, the technical understanding is very dominant. Focus has mostly been on…

Abstract

Purpose

The construction industry is one of the least automated industries. In the aspect of automation, the technical understanding is very dominant. Focus has mostly been on tools, robots and industrialisation. sociomaterial design shows us that what may first appear technologically deterministic can be replaced and actually call for reinvisioning the traditional focus. The purpose of this study is to introduce the agency of a sociomaterial designer in construction.

Design/Methodology/Approach

This is a conceptual paper with an empirical example. To understand the sociomaterial complexity and dynamics of automation, practice theories are applied. To test this approach, the authors give an example from a Danish (global) supplier engaged in a development project about technical aid (tools) in mounting and assembling gypsum walls.

Findings

The sociomaterial-designer can help to understand and make innovation happen when doing automation in construction; as the centre of innovation in construction processes, she works all day with practice, together with practitioners, focusing on material arrangements as located not only in practice, but also in the artefacts. She can help the supplier of construction materials in understanding different professional practices and the transformation to use smarter tools.

Research Limitations/Implications

This research is within a new practice domain “sociomaterial-design” and it has to follow up with an empirical study that covers a development project with a sociomaterial-design approach.

Practical Implications

Developing competences (agency) as a sociomaterial-designer when linking the sociotechnical understanding of Automation with practice.

Originality/Value

This research showcases how sociomaterial perspectives can inform automation in construction.

Details

10th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-051-1

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Article
Publication date: 20 June 2016

Deniz Tunçalp

The author join Orlikowski (2007) in seeking the “reconfiguration of our conventional assumptions and considerations of materiality.” In her sociomaterial approach

Abstract

Purpose

The author join Orlikowski (2007) in seeking the “reconfiguration of our conventional assumptions and considerations of materiality.” In her sociomaterial approach, Orlikowski combines what is social and what is material into a “sociomaterial assemblage” in considering material and social aspects of technology. However, the author thinks this conflation creates a number of analytical and phenomenological problems for the understanding of technology in organizing. Rather than considering materiality with a primacy, the author argue that the proposed approach may reduce what is material into a social essence and makes materiality of a technology impossible to perceive separate from the social aspects. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical examples of “Information Search” and “Mobile Communication” in Orlikowski (2007) are further employed to discuss the grounds of the criticism.

Findings

The author propose a critical realist perspective to technology both as social and material recursively.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis is primarily ontological and meta-theoretical. In future, extensive reviews can be performed on what questions have been asked and what questions have been omitted by researchers employing different versions of sociomaterial perspective.

Practical implications

The perspective offered by this paper enables asking new questions and necessary empirical leverage to analyze how one technology becomes materialized and successful in the social realm and not the other. The author also discusses strategic conditions of how one successful technology can be replaced by another.

Social implications

Understanding the state of the art in theory in understanding material and social aspects of technology would help us develop novel strategies to contest, complement and adapt to material and social issues of technologies.

Originality/value

This paper is among the few critical papers that meta-theoretically question the relatively recent sociomaterial turn in organization studies and information systems fields.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 54 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2017

Elizabeth Daniel, Elizabeth Hartnett and Maureen Meadows

Social media such as blogs are being widely used in organizations in order to undertake internal communication and share knowledge, rendering them important boundary…

Abstract

Purpose

Social media such as blogs are being widely used in organizations in order to undertake internal communication and share knowledge, rendering them important boundary objects. A root metaphor of the boundary object domain is the notion of relatively static and inert objects spanning similarly static boundaries. A strong sociomaterial perspective allows the immisciblity of object and boundary to be challenged, since a key tenet of this perspective is the ongoing and mutually constituted performance of the material and social. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The aim of the research is to draw upon sociomateriality to explore the operation of social media platforms as intra-organizational boundary objects. Given the novel perspective of this study and its social constructivist ontology, the authors adopt an exploratory, interpretivist research design. This is operationalized as a case study of the use of an organizational blog by a major UK Government department over an extended period. A novel aspect of the study is the use of data released under a Freedom of Information request.

Findings

The authors present three exemplar instances of how the blog and organizational boundaries were performed in the situated practice of the case study organization. The authors draw on the literature on boundary objects, blogs and sociomateriality in order to provide a theoretical explication of the mutually constituted performance of the blog and organizational boundaries. The authors also invoke the notion of “extended chains of intra-action” to theorize changes in the wider organization.

Originality/value

Adoption of a sociomaterial lens provides a highly novel perspective of boundary objects and organizational boundaries. The study highlights the indeterminate and dynamic nature of boundary objects and boundaries, with both being in an intra-active state of becoming challenging conventional conceptions. The study demonstrates that specific material-discursive practices arising from the situated practice of the blog at the respective boundaries were performative, reconfiguring the blog and boundaries and being generative of further changes in the organization.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 30 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 23 February 2010

Tara Fenwick

The purpose of this paper is to compare theoretical conceptions that reclaim and re‐think material practice – “the thing” in the social and personal mix – specifically in…

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3132

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare theoretical conceptions that reclaim and re‐think material practice – “the thing” in the social and personal mix – specifically in terms of work activity and what is construed to be learning in that activity.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is theory‐based. Three perspectives have been selected for discussion: cultural‐historical activity theory (CHAT), actor‐network theory (ANT), and complexity theory. A comparative approach is used to examine these three conceptual framings in the context of their uptake in learning research to explore their diverse contributions and limitations on questions of agency, power, difference, and the presence of the “thing”.

Findings

The three perspectives bear some similarities in their conceptualization of knowledge and capabilities as emerging – simultaneously with identities, policies, practices and environment – in webs of interconnections between heterogeneous things, human and nonhuman. Yet each illuminates very different facets of the sociomaterial in work‐learning that can afford important understandings: about how subjectivities are produced in work, how knowledge circulates and sediments into formations of power, and how practices are configured and re‐configured. Each also signals, in different ways, what generative possibilities may exist for counter‐configurations and alternative identities in spaces and places of work.

Originality/value

While some dialogue has occurred among ANT and CHAT, this has not been developed to compare more broadly the metaphysics and approaches of these perspectives, along with complexity theory which is receiving growing attention in organizational research contexts. The paper purports to introduce the nature of these debates to work‐learning researchers and point to their implications for opening useful questions and methods for inquiry in workplace learning.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 22 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Alina Dulipovici and Dragos Vieru

This study aims to examine how a collaboration technology is used by three organizational groups. The main focus is on the interplay between the users’ perceptions (of the…

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1184

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine how a collaboration technology is used by three organizational groups. The main focus is on the interplay between the users’ perceptions (of the technology and of the knowledge shared) and the material properties of the collaboration technology.

Design/methodology/approach

Two theoretical frameworks (social representations and sociomaterial practice perspective) examine collaboration technology use to better understand the underlying dynamics. The research is conducted as a case study in a US company where a collaboration technology was being implemented.

Findings

The findings reveal a process model showing how social dynamics and users’ perceptions of what the collaboration technology can do and cannot do to share the users’ knowledge influence the users’ behaviour. Based on these perceptions, users will twist or amend their interpretation of the reality (the material properties of the technology) to justify their use of the collaboration technology.

Research limitations/implications

This research is conducted as a single case study. However, the significant amount of time spent at the research site allowed for a very rich description of the events and processes involved.

Practical implications

This study offers guidelines on what influences use and adoption of collaboration technologies. It highlights the importance of providing more than just training, as social dynamics and users’ perceptions continuously influence users’ behaviour.

Originality/value

By combining two complementary theoretical frameworks, this study provides a novel and more in-depth explanation of collaboration technology use (or lack thereof).

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 19 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2020

Hanna Vuojärvi and Saana Korva

This study aims to discover how leadership emerges in a hospital’s trauma team in a simulated trauma care situation. Instead of investigating leadership from a…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to discover how leadership emerges in a hospital’s trauma team in a simulated trauma care situation. Instead of investigating leadership from a leader-centric perspective, or using a metrics-based approach to reach generalizable results, the study aims to draw from post-heroic theories by applying leadership-as-practice and sociomaterial perspectives that emphasize the cultural-historical context and emergent nature of leadership.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted in a Finnish central hospital through ethnographic observations of 14 in situ trauma simulation trainings over a period of 13 months. The data consist of vignettes developed and written from field notes. The analysis was informed by the cultural-historical activity theory.

Findings

Leadership in a trauma team during an in situ simulation training emerges from a complex system of agencies taking place simultaneously. Contextual elements contributed to the goal. Clarity of roles and task division, strong execution of leadership at critical points, active communication and maintenance of disciplined communication helped to overcome difficulties. The team developed coordination of the process in conjunction with the care.

Originality/value

The study considers trauma leadership to be a practical phenomenon emerging from the trauma team’s sociomaterial context. The results can be used to develop non-technical skills training within the field of simulation-based medical training.

Details

Leadership in Health Services, vol. 33 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1879

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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2013

Bonnie Slade

This paper aims to examine the professional learning of rural police officers.

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923

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the professional learning of rural police officers.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative case study involved interviews and focus groups with 34 police officers in Northern Scotland. The interviews and focus groups were transcribed and analysed, drawing on practice‐based and sociomaterial learning theories, by members of the research team.

Findings

The two key skills for effective rural policing were mobilising available human and material resources in the moment, and learning how to police and live in a rural community. The professional learning of rural police is spatial, emergent, embodied and deeply enmeshed in specificities, and is developed through interactions between human and non‐human actors.

Practical implications

This paper argues that, in order to understand professional learning, it is imperative to examine how work practices are fully entangled in social and material relations.

Originality/value

Applying sociomaterial approaches to issues of professional learning can illuminate previously obscured actors and gives a fuller picture of how professional practice is developed, sustained and modified. Learning is conceived as attuning to available knowledge resources and drawing on the knowledge strategies that are the most productive in the moment. The issues raised in this paper pertain to other professionals working in rural areas, and more generally to the theoretical framing of professional practice.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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