François-Régis Puyou and Paolo Quattrone
Using examples from Rome, the Renaissance, and modernity, this chapter takes an historical view on how accounts allow organizations to coalesce. This phenomenon is described as a process of composition where the visual and material spaces of accounts prompt their users to perform ordered classifications of arguments that make organizations tangible. Organizing is thus conceived as the regular encounter between people and artefacts. Such encounters support the coexistence of different interconnected organizings, resulting from multiple engagements with the signs and words in account books, as illustrated by the outcomes of budgetary discussions between engineers and traders in a hydroelectric company.
Haldor Byrkeflot and Karsten Vrangbaek
The debate on accountability within the public sector has been lively in the past decade. Significant progress has been made in developing conceptual frameworks and typologies for characterizing different features and functions of accountability. However, there is a lack of sector specific adjustment of such frameworks. In this chapter we present a framework for analyzing accountability within health care. The chapter makes use of the concept of “accountability regime” to signify the combination of different accountability forms, directions and functions at any given point in time. We show that reforms can introduce new forms of accountability, change existing accountability relations or change the relative importance of different accountability forms. They may also change the dominant direction and shift the balance between different functions of accountability. The chapter further suggests that developments in accountability regimes are best analyzed with a combination of top-down and bottom up perspectives and that there is a need to develop research strategies to support this aim.
Vocational education and training has emerged from traditional industry and technical training into a vigorous post-compulsory education sector focused on satisfying the ever-changing demands of today’s employers. This chapter considers issues around the accreditation and regulation of providers and the assessment and certification of outcomes. Quality and comparability of outcomes has been a common concern for regulatory regimes. The front-end emphasis of training assessors and the requirement for workplace assessment contexts is designed to align with employer needs. However there are legitimate concerns about the consistency of judgments. Competency based assessment (CBA) has been the dominant assessment model and contrasts with the traditional assessment approach in general education. However the more recent standards-referenced assessment movement in the latter sector suggests ways in which assessment approaches are converging. Employability and 21st century skills reinforce the interest in developing generic skills in all sectors of education.
This chapter considers the history and organizational effects of the suspended acoustical tile ceiling in terms of the difference between ‘space’ (below) and ‘plenum’ (above). Reviewing the development of the acoustic tile since the early twentieth century, and the construction systems with which it was suspended to create a plenum between ceiling below and floor above, the chapter argues that this separation gave the ceiling new meaning. Increasingly, by isolating the mechanical hum of environmental technologies within the plenum, the suspended acoustical tile ceiling maintains a difference between the silence of ‘space’ and the noise of the mechanical systems that serve it.
The focus of this article is upon producing actionable knowledge. Propositions that are actionable are those that actors can use to implement effectively their intentions. Actionable knowledge requires propositions that make explicit the causal processes required to produce action. Causality is the key in implementation. One of the most powerful inhibitors of effective action is inner contradictions. Inner contradictions exist when the propositions to act are implemented correctly. One cause of inner contradiction is the methodologies used by most normal social scientists to discover problems and to invent solutions. These features cause the degree of seamlessness and the validity of the implementation to be reduced. The focus on describing reality in ways that satisfies the requirements of internal and external validity makes it less likely that attention is paid to the implementable validity of the propositions. This, in turn, leads to propositions that are abstract and disconnected from implementable action.
This chapter highlights the most significant ways in which research from across Internet Studies combines thematically to offer a picture of the challenges facing freedom of expression in the twenty-first century, as well as the need for broader theoretical frameworks. It suggests that a broader theoretical framework is required to catch the full range of law and policies shaping expression online, and to develop responses for policy and practice. The Internet presents just as many opportunities for digital surveillance or censorship as it does for free expression. The most helpful contribution of Internet Studies has been to expose and illuminate the many different forces that restrict or expand the opportunities to speak and communicate. The Internet has become central to communication and it plays a role in helping multiple actors to obtain their various goals.
This chapter is dedicated to batteries as media of spatio-temporal organization. In a first step, the history of (rechargeable) batteries is summarized with special regard to their influence on the emergence of digital cultures. This is followed by a systematic discussion of their ambivalent role between expansion and destabilization of electrical networks, which in digital cultures manifests itself in the phenomenon of duration or range anxiety. Finally, it is argued that this ambivalent organizational mediality of batteries (including their ecological consequences) is inseparably linked to their perception as humanistic technology.
Christoph Michels and Chris Steyaert
The bicycle is an almost iconic study artefact that assembles the technological with the social, the organizational with the cultural, and the geographical with the political. This chapter traces how the bicycle was invented and transformed through a variety of uses, and how it increasingly is considered a ‘vehicle’ for ecological transformation through challenging urban affects. Instigated by technological developments and the integration of social media, bicycles are inscribed with new possibility and strong hope to realize sustainable scripts and policies. This anticipation of a true pedalling revolution implies that we all become ‘velocipedes’ again—using our feet to gain speed.
Lucas Introna and Lara Pecis
This chapter explores how Bitcoin promotes itself as an open, democratic, decentralized, and collaborative community that can bypass untrustworthy financial institutions. Whilst notions of trust in traditional forms of institutions, such as banks, have been affected by the 2008–9 financial crisis, the push towards alternative monetary systems by cryptocurrency communities seems to offer the perfect promise of decentralization and transparency. Yet, following Luhmann’s articulation of system trust, the complex functioning of Bitcoin calls for rethinking how trust in the system is understood both in relation to the trust posed in the neutrality of algorithmic action and governance, but also in others, such as the ‘wisdom of the crowd’.
Terri L. Griffith, Gregory B. Northcraft, and Mark A. Fuller
Data warehousing and the development of the World Wide Web both augment information gathering (search) processes in individual decision making by increasing the availability of required information. Imagine, for example, that one wanted to buy new golf clubs. Thirty years ago, the cost of information gathering would likely have limited an individual's search process to geographically proximal vendors and the golf clubs they stocked. Today, a prospective purchaser can log onto the World Wide Web to find out what types of golf clubs are available anywhere; consult databases, chat rooms, and bulletin boards (e.g., epinions.com) to gather product information and user opinions; and compare prices across vendors around the world.
Carliss Y. Baldwin
How do firms create and capture value in large technical systems? In this paper, I argue that the points of both value creation and value capture are the system’s bottlenecks. Bottlenecks arise first as important technical problems to be solved.
Timon Beyes, Robin Holt, and Claus Pias
This chapter traces and interrogates media, technology, and organization in their foundational relations, their forms, and their constraining and loosening effects and affects. The folding of humans and technology works both ways: human bodies can, too, be apprehended prosthetically as extensions of technologies. The notion of media then applies to any object that conditions the structure of a certain situation and the specific possibilities of perceiving, acting, and thinking in it. If we begin with this understanding of technology and media as fundamental, conditional, and infrastructural, then how organization takes place is predicated upon such apparatuses. The task is then not one of finding better uses of desks, smartphones, presentation software, or high heels, for all of these have modes of subjectification scripted into them. Rather, it is remaining alive to the hesitations already provided: the glitches, accidents, misuses, and alternative projections, and to wander and wonder with them.
This chapter dwells on the calendar and more specifically on personal time management systems as a technology that mediates between the organization and the individual. The calendar is discussed as a technical medium of standardization and modularization as well as a medium of cultural synchronization, which provides an interface between the demands of an organization and those of its employees. Following Weber’s claim on the interrelatedness of capitalism and the Christian conduct of life, the calendar is discussed as a medium of Protestantism and as an integral part of the media and cultural history of the rationalization of the self.
Cards in all their varieties played a crucial role in pre-digital information processing and were only partially replaced at the start of the twenty-first century. Starting with Conrad Gessner’s early use of cards and catalogues as bibliographical compiling tools, this chapter takes a closer look at the distinguishing features of these allegedly antiquated information carriers, which functioned as handheld representatives, manageable paper-based proxies, or paper personae. Be it index cards, visiting cards, or even playing cards: they afford not only the organization of information, but also mobility, portability, flexibility, modularity, representativity, transitivity, manageability, updateability, legibility, and combinability.
Maria-Laura Toraldo and Jeanne Mengis
This chapter examines the chair as both a mundane, physical object with the role of ‘seating a person’ and as a cultural artefact with a history of use, of handcraft, of design, and even of artistic representation. It suggests the chair’s agency is only partly given by its specific materiality, but is also shaped by the manifold historic, artistic, craft, design, and architectural contexts in which it has been placed. By tracing these material and discursive relations, the chapter shows how the chair enables and shapes organizational life by both visualizing absence and thus creating a longing for presence and by affirming social positions and elevating power.
Changing the Story Surrounding Enterprise Systems to Improve our Understanding of What Makes ERP Work in Organizations
Erica Wagner and Sue Newell
This article turns our attention to enterprise systems (ES). It shows that this competitiveness can be gained through enabling leaner production as a result of streamlining work flow with a view to increase productivity, reducing costs, and improving decision quality and resource control. It notes that this perceived ability to streamline and integrate business operations lead to enterprise systems becoming the most popular business software of the twentieth century. This article sees an ES in terms of an iterative experience life cycle where phases of configuration/customization and implementation/use will alternate cyclically, gradually helping to exploit the functionality of the software. The practical implications of rethinking analysis are discussed. The findings indicate that customization to a system is sometimes necessary to achieving a working information system.
Melissa Gregg and Tamara Kneese
The clock has long been a social technology, or a way of authorizing a singular source to propel collective activity. This chapter explores whether this social function continues in quite the same way in the wake of digital technology. It investigates the particular role of the clock in the workplace—how a predictable relationship to time accrued value for The Organization as an institutional form. The chapter traces the history of the clock, from factories to the contemporary digital workplace, asking how new technologies have changed the status of the clock as a way of organizing labour and productivity.
John Durham Peters
This chapter explores the cultural productivity of the ontological elusiveness of clouds. Vaporous entities without a clear material or formal existence, clouds carry great freights of significance. Few phenomena are quite so packed with meaning. Despite their reputation as flighty and insubstantial, clouds have carried a wide range of discourses, practices, arts, and media for a very long time. The term ‘cloud’ has earned its place as a keyword in digital culture because of its widespread recent use for server-based online data storage, but the nearly instant and universal acceptance of this term today has a much longer legacy, which this chapter traces.
Götz Bachmann and Paula Bialski
Technologies of coffee making and drinking at the workplace and in break rooms provide us with field-internal analytical devices for organizational research. Drawing on five ethnographic stories—prohibited coffee cups in an insurance office; coffee machine battles in a TV studio; the simulation of coffee sociality in a software company; turbulences between two work break shifts in a department store; and the exclusive coffee club in a data services company—this chapter argues that analysing organizational life through the lens of coffee provision is not without pitfalls, but can nevertheless give us useful access to an organization’s inner workings.
Rhett A. Brymer, Michael A. Hitt, and Mario Schijven
This article focuses on managerial, operative, and corporate cognition. It argues that ‘the transformation of knowledge into practice is mediated by the cognition of the firm's human capital (HC)’. The article posits a mutually constituting reciprocal relationship between knowledge and behaviour, the exchange being governed by cognition. It argues that managers are able to influence the firm's cognitive states even when these are path dependent and contextualized. Managers set the strategic balance between ‘learning’ and ‘using’, between ‘exploration’ and ‘exploitation’, creating effective alignment between the environment and internal activity systems through adjustments to cognition. The article cites empirical research showing a strong relationship between HC, as measured by education and experience, and firm performance. It also presumes that HC can arise at both individual and collective levels, enabling it to explore the relationship between individual and collective cognition and the value of the firm's HC.