Boundary objects in digitalized service contexts

Roberta Sebastiani, D CORSARO, C MELE

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


Digitalization of is one of the most important phenomena characterizing the last decade. It opens new possibilities that lead people to be the driving forces of change. Through technologies individuals are gaining growing spaces of autonomy and initiative everywhere: in production, in consumption and in social life in general. The effects of digitalization are manifolds: growing number of touch points among interacting actors, greater fluidity of information, dematerialization of contents, almost infinite cognitive chains, and many others. All these elements are generating complexity which, in turn, requires higher coordination. Starting point of this study is that service innovation in digitalized contexts increasingly occurs in space and cross-boundary movements and is enabled by the improved role of boundary objects. Boundary objects have been defined as “objects that live in multiple social worlds and which have different identities in it” (Star and Griesemer, 1989: 438). These objects, which can be either abstract (conceptual) or concrete (physical), serve to communicate and coordinate the perspectives of various actors. Boundary objects translate, coordinate, and align the perspectives of the different parties. They allow coordination without consensus or shared goals and make available an actor’s local understanding to be reframed in the context of a wider collective activity. An interactive, qualitative, case-study approach is adopted to gain insights into the phenomena described. The research follows an abductive research approach, where data collection and analysis, on the one hand, and the search for complementary theories. on the other hand. constituted parallel iterative processes. In order to pursue the aim of the research several cases have been selected. The study identifies the main functions of boundary objects for service innovation in digitalized contexts. It also sheds light on the importance of representing and displaying boundary objects in order to improve the effectiveness of above mentioned functions.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteIntegrating three perspectives for a new service agenda
EditorMele C., Polese F Gummesson E.
Numero di pagine6
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017


  • Boundary objects
  • Digitalization


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