Boundary objects, power and learning: The matter of developing sustainable practice in organisations
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This article develops an understanding of the agential role of boundary objects in generating and politicizing learning in organizations, as it emerges from the entangled actions of humans and non-humans. We offer two empirical vignettes in which middle managers seek to develop more sustainable ways of working. Informed by Foucault’s writing on power, our work highlights how power relations enable and foreclose the affordances, or possibilities for action, associated with boundary objects. Our data demonstrate how this impacts the learning that emerges as boundary objects are configured and unraveled over time. In so doing, we illustrate how boundary objects are not fixed entities, but are mutable, relational, and politicized in nature. Connecting boundary objects to affordances within a Foucauldian perspective on power offers a more nuanced understanding of how ‘the material’ plays an agential role in consolidating and disrupting understandings in the accomplishment of learning.
The project was funded by European Social Fund grant number ESF 09103NC05
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
First published online November 22, 2016 as doi:10.1177/1350507616677199