Rhetoric, Practice, and Context-Sensitivity in Sociotechnical Action: The Compass Case

Rhetoric, Practice, and Context-Sensitivity in Sociotechnical Action: The Compass Case

Giuseppina Pellegrino (University of Calabria, Italy)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-268-8.ch008
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Abstract

Sociotechnical action, as interpreted in this article, comprises a wide array of elements which shape technological artefacts as socio-material and linguistic devices. Concepts grounded in different theoretical streams are used to account for the ambiguous and multiple process of technology construction. Categories of ‘interpretative flexibility’, ‘inscription’, work-around’, ‘misunderstanding’, are reviewed and used in this account. Starting from the implementation of an intranet-based Knowledge Management System in a 100 staff British firm, different courses of action in technology implementation and appropriation are analysed. Interpretations performed by different actors can rise misunderstanding, failure and innovation in processes of negotiation and are strongly oriented by power issues. The gap between rhetoric of public discourse and practice situated in specific organizational contexts is argued to be crucial in framing expectations and patterns of sociotechnical action. Ambiguity and multiplicity of the Knowledge Management System studied (the Compass) illustrate how the mutual constitution of the social and the technical makes technology a ‘context sensitive’ artefact.

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