Materiality in action: the role of objects in institutional work
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2022

Public property owners currently face a great backlog of renovation work at the same time as there is a need to build new, increase cost-efficiency, and comply with new environmental regulations on energy efficiency. To manage these challenges many public property owners have initiated change processes to develop new strategic ways of working with their properties, often aligned with a project portfolio approach. This involves a quite radical shift of practices in these organizations, which requires individuals to engage in institutional work. Recent studies have highlighted how institutional work is shared between humans and objects. To increase understanding of objects’ role in institutional work through which public property owners develop new practices that support a holistic, long-term, and sustainable property management, we analyzed observational data of strategy project meetings in three Swedish public property owner organizations. Findings show how objects have an active role in institutional work through acts of attacking, justifying, and/or safeguarding to maintain, create and/or disrupt institutions. Objects take on multiple roles and both unite and divide human actors as well as evoke emotions that guide actions. Three types of agency are highlighted: relational, discursive, and emotional. Increased knowledge on the role of objects in institutional work and how objects (can) influence human agency assists actors in making better-informed decisions in strategic change processes.


institutional work


public organisations


Ingrid Svensson

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Service Management and Logistics

Pernilla Gluch

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Service Management and Logistics

Construction Management and Economics

0144-6193 (ISSN) 1466-433X (eISSN)

Vol. 40 1 41-55

I energiomställningens tjänst: Att leda strategisk förändring i kommunal fastighetsförvaltning

Centrum för management i byggsektorn (CMB) (126), 2019-01-01 -- 2020-12-31.






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