تبدیل به مواد: سیستم های تشخیص از راه دور و اشکال جدیدی از مرزگستری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21603||2009||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Information and Organization, Volume 19, Issue 4, October 2009, Pages 233–252
To learn and adapt, organizations engage widely in Information Technology (IT)-mediated boundary-spanning. This involves making sense of a swath of peripheral information made available by digital means so as to expand local knowledge. Prior research on boundary-spanning has paid scant attention to material differences between IT systems in enabling or constraining such activity. In this article, we argue that material features do matter: features afforded by IT systems have a significant impact on the form and content of boundary-spanning. We analyze material features and related affordances provided by remote diagnostics systems – a family of ubiquitous IT systems. These features allow remote diagnostics systems to collect, store, and continuously analyze data about the state of machinery and related production processes across space, time and organizational boundaries. Organizations use these systems to determine when maintenance intervention is needed, or to improve their production processes. Often, these systems are run by external service providers at remote sites, which become the new ears and the eyes of a focal organization’s production processes. Building on a longitudinal multi-site case study of two organizations, we explore the impacts of remote diagnostics systems on boundary-spanning. We observe that material features afforded by the remote diagnostics led the organizations to change their boundary-spanning in contradictory ways. On one hand, they reinforced existing boundaries. On the other hand, they crossed or cut down others, or created new ones. This suggests that the material features of these systems, when combined with new knowledge creation and sharing practices, within and between the local and the remote sites generate richer, multi-faceted inter-organizational knowledge flows. We surmise that IT’s new material features will continue to significantly shape organizing logics that determine where and when organizational boundaries are drawn and crossed. Future boundary-spanning will increasingly be shaped by socio-technical assemblages brought together by increasingly pervasive IT capabilities.
The ability to protect knowledge within organizational boundaries, or to allow it to flow across them, has long been recognized as a critical element of organization design. It affects, among other things, innovation and organizational transformation (Grant, 1996, Kogut and Zander, 1992, Nonaka, 1994 and Von Hippel, 1988). When the members of an organization cross boundaries to attain external knowledge, the activity is called boundary-spanning, and the actors involved are called boundary-spanners (Leifer & Delbecq, 1978). Information Technology (IT) eliminates the problem of distance, increases speed, provides universal access, and cuts down on communication costs. Not surprisingly, for some time IT has been viewed as an important mechanism that contributes to boundary-spanning in that it: (1) renders heterogeneous internal information resources more transparent and thus integrate diverse knowledge (Ross, Beath, & Goodhue, 1996) and (2) helps assimilate external knowledge through virtual exchange and collaboration (Bharadwaj, 2000). Evidence for the positive influence of IT on boundary-spanning is, however, mixed. On one hand, IT has increasingly enabled ‘cross-over’ practices within and between organizations (Hayes, 2001). On the other hand, it has reinforced existing boundaries (Levina & Vaast, 2006). One reason for these mixed findings is that the extant research has paid scant attention to material differences between IT systems that underlie boundary-spanning (Lindgren, Andersson, and Henfridsson (2008)). Clearly, an inter-organizational transaction system within a supply chain (Malhotra, Gosain, & Sawy, 2005), and a collaboration system supporting inter-organizational design work (Majchrzak, Rice, Malhotra, King, & Ba, 2000) will have different effects on boundary-spanning. This calls for more careful consideration of how the material and social become “entangled” in the process of boundary-spanning (Orlikowski, 2007). In this study, we address the significance of such material differences by investigating how a family of inter-organizational Information Systems (IS), denoted remote diagnostics systems, enables and constrains boundary-spanning. Remote diagnostics systems—an application family within ubiquitous computing (e.g. Lyytinen & Yoo, 2002)—collect, store and continuously analyze data about the state of production machinery and processes and help, for example, to determine when maintenance or other types of intervention are needed. In transmitting digital representations over space and time for extensive analysis, these systems have the potential to transform localized, manual practices into complex, digitally mediated, organizationally and geographically distributed socio-material practices. To date, studies of remote diagnostics systems have focused on the benefits of timely and extensive information-handling in hostile, capital-intensive, and time-critical environments (Jonsson, Westergren, & Holmström, 2008). No studies have been conducted on forms of boundary-spanning that follow these systems as they extend the flows of information and knowledge across boundaries. We posit that remote diagnostics have the potential to spawn new forms of boundary-spanning involving novel interactions among previously unconnected actors, both inside and outside a given organization. In this paper, we will address, in particular, the following questions: (1) do practices associated with remote diagnostics create new forms of distributed maintenance, drawing new organizational boundaries? and (2) do remote diagnostics systems generate and support new forms of boundary-spanning in these distributed arrangements? To address these questions, we will examine in situ boundary-spanning associated with remote diagnostics systems in dispersed work settings. Because remote diagnostics systems are deeply intertwined with material practices, they offer a fruitful arena to examine how material and increasingly embedded features afforded by IT shape boundary-spanning and re-organize the social and the technical elements at the boundary (Leonardi & Barley, 2008). The distilled theoretical insights can also be used to formulate guidelines for system design in terms of how to transform existing boundaries and/or erect new boundaries when introducing remote diagnostics systems. The study also adds to the stream of research an interpretation of remote diagnostics systems as an inter-organizational information system affecting boundary-spanning. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. We will next discuss boundary-spanning in organization theory and the IS. We then describe remote diagnostic systems and clarify their material features. This is followed by a multi-site field study on the evolution of boundary-spanning associated with the adoption and use of remote diagnostics systems in two industrial organizations. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for studies on boundary-spanning, notions of the organizational boundary, and how such boundaries will be generated and ‘managed’ in the future.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
We have described the impact of the use of remote diagnostics systems in maintenance with the aim of highlighting their impact on boundary-spanning. Our contribution is twofold. First, we show not only how the remote diagnostics system has spanned existing boundaries, but also how it has reinforced existing boundaries and created new ones. These processes have re-shaped the boundaries and practices in the daily work of maintenance technicians. Second, the remote diagnostics system generates changes in the nature of boundary-spanning. Boundary-spanning is no longer an IT-mediated social activity; rather, it has turned into a socio-technical activity that rests on the materiality of the technology. This study is limited in that it presents only a single case study across four organizations and thus also only a partial view of boundary-spanning practices. So, additional studies are needed. Our findings underscore the need for more extensive research into the realm of technology-enabled (and not only mediated) boundary-spanning. The differences between forms of boundary-spanning and different types of IT capabilities need to be explored further. A deepened understanding of both technology-free and technology-based boundary-spanning will give us more detailed knowledge of the role of technology. The approach to boundary-spanning presented here needs to be further extended, and in the future, the garnered insights need to be validated by addressing a broader range of IT infrastructures. The processes of boundary-spanning should be generalized and validated in other industries where IT innovation has become a central locus for boundaryspanning.