Using Technology and Constituiting Structures: a Practice Lens for Studying Technology in Organizations

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Using Technology and Constituting Structures: A Practice Lens for Studying Technology in Organizations Author(s): Wanda J. Orlikowski Source: Organization Science, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Jul. - Aug., 2000), pp. 404-428 Published by: INFORMS Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640412 . Accessed: 25/03/2013 09:57 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

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Using A

Technology

and

Constituting

Structures:

Practice

Lens
in

for

Studying

Technology

Organizations
Wanda J. Orlikowski

Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, wanda@mit.edu

T his essay advancesthe view thatstructuresare not locatedin organizationsor in technology,but are enactedby users. It offers a fluid view of structure buildson and extendsearlierworkon that structuration.

M. ScottPoole

Abstract
As both technologies and organizationsundergo dramatic are changes in form and function,organizational researchers and to increasingly turning conceptsof innovation, emergence, improvisation help explainthe new ways of organizing to and using technologyevident in practice.With a similarintent,I proposean extensionto the structurational perspective techon nology thatdevelopsa practicelens to examinehow people,as they interact with a technologyin theirongoingpractices, enact structures which shapetheiremergentand situateduse of that technology.Viewing the use of technologyas a processof enof role actment enablesa deeperunderstanding the constitutive of social practicesin the ongoinguse and changeof technologies in the workplace.After developingthis lens, I offer an exampleof its use in research,and then suggest some implicationsfor the studyof technologyin organizations. (Information Technology; Organization; Structuration Theory; WorkPractices)

Technology-and its relationship to organizational structures, processes, and outcomes-has long been of interest to organizational researchers. Over the years, different research perspectives on technology have developed in parallel with research perspectives on organizations-for example, contingency theory (Woodward 1965, Galbraith 1977, Carter 1984, Daft and Lengel 1986), strategic choice models (Child 1972, Buchanan and Boddy 1983, Davis and Taylor 1986, Zuboff 1988), Marxist studies

(Braverman 1974, Edwards 1979, Shaiken 1985, Perrolle 1986), symbolic interactionist approaches (Kling 1991, Prasad 1993), transaction-cost economics (Malone et al. 1987, Ciborra 1993); network analyses (Barley 1990, Burkhardtand Brass 1990, Rice and Aydin 1991), practice theories (Suchman 1987, Button 1993, Hutchins 1995, Orr 1996), and structurational models (Barley 1986, Orlikowski 1992, DeSanctis and Poole 1994).l Today, both technologies and organizations are undergoing dramatic changes in form and function, and new and unprecedentedforms and functions are becoming evident. In response, organizational researchershave applied notions of innovation, learning, and improvisation to account for such dynamic and emerging patterns of organizing (Brown and Duguid 1991, Weick 1993, Hutchins 1991, Brown and Eisenhardt 1997, Hedberg et al. 1997, Barrett 1998, Hatch 1998, Lant 1999). Similarly, researchers of technology have...
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