An Actor-Network Theory of Boundary Objects: Construction and Disappearance
Boundary objects (Star and Grisemer, 1989) are non-human actors that are able to coordinate collaborative activity across social worlds. The means of boundary object emergence has not previously been theorised. This article makes use of Actor-Network Theory as a means of understanding boundary object ontology and transience. A case study of an emergency management collaboration forms the context for observing the construction and disappearance of a boundary object (here an emergency plan) in a turbulent actor-network. The article asserts that boundary objects are created through closer aligning understanding, and inscription – together identified as structuring activities. The strength of the object is determined by connections to strong actors. The moving of a boundary object between contexts is identified as re-contextualisation, a period in which the ontological strength of an object diminishes as connections to other actors are eroded in turbulent contexts.
Citation:Thompson, E. (2016) An Actor-Network Theory of Boundary Objects: Construction and Disappearance, British Academy of Management Conference 2016, 6-8th Septemeber 2016, Newcastle,