Coordination and control in project-based work: digital objects and infrastructures for delivery

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Whyte, Jennifer ; Lobo, Sunila (2010)

A major infrastructure project is used to investigate the role of digital objects in the coordination of engineering\ud design work. From a practice-based perspective, research emphasizes objects as important in enabling\ud cooperative knowledge work and knowledge sharing. The term ‘boundary object’ has become used in the\ud analysis of mutual and reciprocal knowledge sharing around physical and digital objects. The aim is to extend\ud this work by analysing the introduction of an extranet into the public–private partnership project used to\ud construct a new motorway. Multiple categories of digital objects are mobilized in coordination across\ud heterogeneous, cross-organizational groups. The main findings are that digital objects provide mechanisms for\ud accountability and control, as well as for mutual and reciprocal knowledge sharing; and that different types of\ud objects are nested, forming a digital infrastructure for project delivery. Reconceptualizing boundary objects as\ud a digital infrastructure for delivery has practical implications for management practices on large projects and\ud for the use of digital tools, such as building information models, in construction. It provides a starting point\ud for future research into the changing nature of digitally enabled coordination in project-based work.
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