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The entanglement of technology and work in organizations

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We begin by juxtaposing the pervasive presence of technology in organizational work with its absence from the organization studies literature. Our analysis of four leading journals in the field confirms that over 95 percent of the article published in top management research outlets do not take into account the role of technology in organizational life. We then examine the research that has been done on technology, and categorize this literature into two research streams according to their view of technology: individuality and duality. For each stream, we discuss three reviews spanning the last 20 years of scholarship and join with them in concluding that despite a widespread perception that much is known about the consequences of technology and work in organizations, and that additional perspectives are needed to add to the palette of conceptual lenses in use. Drawing on work in the sociology of technology, we discuss one such promising alternative – sociomateriality – which questions the assumption that technology, work, and organizations should be conceptualized separately. We illustrate this approach with a discussion of two specific examples of sociomateriality – web search and financial decision-making. We conclude by suggesting that a reconsideration of our conventional views of technology will help us more effectively study and understand the multiple, emergent, and dynamic sociomaterial configurations that constitute contemporary organizational practices.

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