Actors and objects: A socio-technical networks approach for construction management research
Schweber, L. and Harty, C. (2010) Actors and objects: A socio-technical networks approach for construction management research. Construction Management and Economics, 28 (6). pp. 657-674. ISSN 0144-6193
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/01446191003702468
We explore the contribution of socio-technical networks approaches to construction management research. These approaches are distinctive for their analysis of actors and objects as mutually constituted within socio-technical networks. They raise questions about the ways in which the content, meaning and use of technology is negotiated in practice, how particular technical configurations are elaborated in response to specific problems and why certain paths or solutions are adopted rather than others. We illustrate this general approach with three case studies: a historical study of the development of reinforced concrete in France, the UK and the US, the recent introduction of 3D-CAD software into four firms and an analysis of the uptake of environmental assessment technologies in the UK since 1990. In each we draw out the ways in which various technologies shaped and were shaped by different socio-technical networks. We conclude with a reflection on the contributions of socio-technical network analysis for more general issues including the study of innovation and analyses of context and power.
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