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Human Boundary Objects: Fact or Fiction?
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International Conference on Organisational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities
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This paper recognises cross-boundary work as one of the key themes in the studies of work and organisations. It identifies a number of potential avenues for research in this area, which by its very nature needs to cross disciplinary boundaries. Drawing upon the knowledge and learning literature, the paper emphasises the importance of understanding boundary processes and focuses on the concept of boundary objects, their nature and function. It outlines the main typologies of boundary objects and summarises the existing empirical findings regarding their effectiveness and functionality. The crux of the paper is the proposition that certain types of people may be used as boundary objects. It speculates on the conditions that might make this possible focusing in particular on the issues of marginality and legitimate peripheral participation (Lave and Wenger, 1991). The characteristics of human boundary objects are outlined with reference to empirical evidence. The main contribution of the paper is contained in the proposed programme for future research.
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