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Boundary objects, power, and learning: The matter of developing sustainable practice in organizations

Hawkins, Beverley; Pye, Annie; Correia, Fernando


Beverley Hawkins

Annie Pye

Dr Fernando Correia
Lecturer of Sustainable Business Management/ Programme Director of BA Business Management portfolio


This article develops an understanding of the agential role of boundary objects in generating and politicizing learning in organizations, as it emerges from the entangled actions of humans and non-humans. We offer two empirical vignettes in which middle managers seek to develop more sustainable ways of working. Informed by Foucault’s writing on power, our work highlights how power relations enable and foreclose the affordances, or possibilities for action, associated with boundary objects. Our data demonstrate how this impacts the learning that emerges as boundary objects are configured and unraveled over time. In so doing, we illustrate how boundary objects are not fixed entities, but are mutable, relational, and politicized in nature. Connecting boundary objects to affordances within a Foucauldian perspective on power offers a more nuanced understanding of how ‘the material’ plays an agential role in consolidating and disrupting understandings in the accomplishment of learning.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2017
Journal Management learning
Print ISSN 1350-5076
Electronic ISSN 1461-7307
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 3
Pages 292-310
Institution Citation Hawkins, B., Pye, A., & Correia, F. (2017). Boundary objects, power, and learning: The matter of developing sustainable practice in organizations. Management Learning, 48(3), 292-310.
Keywords Action learning; Affordances; Boundary objects; Learning; Materiality; Power
Publisher URL
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Management learning, 2016, v.48, issue 3


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