Sociomaterial practices in engineering work: the backtalk of materials and the tinkering of resources
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2012

Purpose: Engineering work is a specific form of sociomaterial practice, drawing on and combining social and material resources to accomplish desirable effects, often combining technological and social resources. A study of an electrical engineering development project suggests that the work unfolds as a process whereby technological artefacts are verified on the basis of testing procedures and whereby events concerning technological failure, what has been called the "back-talk" of technology, are handled using joint problem-solving. The purpose of this paper is to report on a study of a new product development project at a multinational telecommunications company. Design/methodology/approach: An ethnographic case study of a new product development project at a major multinational telecommunications company was undertaken. Findings: Engineering work is based on distributed know-how and joint collaborations, emerging as a patchwork of activities where one single person may know a lot, but not everything, about the technology-in-the-making. The paper concludes that joint concern for the technology, manifested as its gradual advancement, is what serves as the glue holding the community of engineers together. Originality/value: The paper presents an original study of the work of a team of electrical engineers and inquires into how engineers combine technical and social resources when attempting to make the technology work.


Alexander Styhre

Göteborgs universitet

Leena Wikmalm

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Susanne Ollila

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Jonas Roth

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

1726-0531 (ISSN)

Vol. 10 2 151-167


Annan maskinteknik


Innovation och entreprenörskap



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