Materiality and Change: Challenges to Building Better Theory about Technology and Organizing

Information and Organization, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 159-176, 2008

33 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2009

See all articles by Paul M. Leonardi

Paul M. Leonardi

University of California, Santa Barbara

Stephen R. Barley

Stanford University - Department of Management Science & Engineering

Date Written: January 1, 2008

Abstract

Researchers have had difficulty accommodating materiality in voluntaristic theories of organizing. Although materiality surely shapes how people use technologies, materiality's role in organizational change remains under-theorized. We suggest that scholars have had difficulty grappling with materiality because they often conflate the distinction between the material and social with the distinction between determinism and voluntarism. We explain why such conflation is unnecessary and outline four challenges that researchers must address before they can reconcile the reality of materiality with the notion that outcomes of technological change are socially constructed.

Keywords: materiality, implementation, organizational change, social construction, theory, technology change

Suggested Citation

Leonardi, Paul M. and Barley, Stephen R., Materiality and Change: Challenges to Building Better Theory about Technology and Organizing (January 1, 2008). Information and Organization, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 159-176, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1334092

Paul M. Leonardi (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara ( email )

Phelps Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tmp.ucsb.edu/leonardi/

Stephen R. Barley

Stanford University - Department of Management Science & Engineering ( email )

473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-9025
United States
(650) 723-0519 (Phone)
(650) 723-2826 (Fax)

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