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How Matter MattersObjects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies$
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Paul R. Carlile, Davide Nicolini, Ann Langley, and Haridimos Tsoukas

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199671533

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199671533.001.0001

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The Emergence of Materiality within Formal Organizations

The Emergence of Materiality within Formal Organizations

Chapter:
(p.142) (p.143) 7 The Emergence of Materiality within Formal Organizations
Source:
How Matter Matters
Author(s):

Paul M. Leonardi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199671533.003.0007

In their demonstrations that technologies and organizations are sociomaterial, or how they become sociomaterial, scholars have not reflected in any measurable depth on the concept of materiality by itself. This chapter explores how materiality emerges from an organization’s interaction with its environment. The verb “emerge” is used purposefully. To say that materiality is entirely strategically crafted would be to place an undue onus on the agency of a technology’s designer or developer, an onus which the author suggests may be misplaced. Thus to say that materiality emerges is to recognize that the physical and or/digital materials that are arranged into particular forms are arranged by someone. But the selection of those materials or the ways in which people decide to arrange them may not be entirely under their control because they do so within the constraints of an organization’s formal structure. By considering the insights of organizational theories that depict organizations as actively responding to environmental stimuli and other theories which propose that organizations are largely ineffective at responding to environmental pressures and are directly acted upon by their environments, the chapter demonstrates how the micro-level interpretative flexibility of artifacts, the evolution and composition of the set of relevant social groups that contribute to the artifact’s construction, the processes by which an artifact reaches a point of stabilization and closure, and the structure of the technological frames shared by designers are influenced by macro-level organizational responses to and pressures from their environments.

Keywords:   materiality, emergence, social construction of technology, product development, resource dependence, population ecology, agency

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