Frames and inscriptions: tracing a way to understand IT-dependent change projects (Linderoth & Pellegrino, 2005)


Linderoth, Henrik C.; Pellegrino, Giuseppina: Frames and inscriptions – tracing a way to understand IT-dependent change projects; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 23 (2005), No. 5, pp. 415-420.

Linderoth & Pellegrino analyse sense-making in organizational transitions which are driven by IT projects. Sense-making of a new technology, they argue, happens on an individual level at the user and can not be dictated by some higher authority. The authors use two approaches to analyse how individuals make sense of new technology and how the sense shifts over time. The Actor-Network-Theory and Theory of Social Construction of Technology.

Actor-network theory (ANT) explains processes by which ideas are accepted, tools and methods adopted. There are two major methodologies on how to explore these network processes. One is following the actor (mostly by interviews, observation) and the other one is to analyse inscriptions. Inscriptions are artefacts of knowledge created by the actors. Linderoth & Pellegrino follow this second approach and they define the inscription as „desired program of action or pattern of use that someone inscribes into a medium as artefact.“ They find, that for IT most users are inflexible in how to use the technology, but users are highly flexible when and in which situation to use the technology.

Social Construction of Technology explains the counter party in this process – the user. Linderoth & Pellegrino define Technological frames as „outcome of organisation’s member interaction and sense-making of technology“. Furthermore they introduce the notion of dynamic shifts of these frames over time. [Thus adopting a more post-structuralist view on Social Constructivism].
Furthermore they use Social Construction of Technology to outline the 3 key points users engage in sense-making about; (1) the nature of the technology, (2) the strategy of the technology, and (3) the use of the technology. All three frames need a reasonable inter-connection. Furthermore Linderoth & Pellegrino argue that discrepancies between frames of different user groups lead to project failures.

Looking at the dynamics of frames the authors identified one dominating element in each project life stage.

  • Project start-up: Nature, Strategy, Use
  • Project in action: Nature, Strategy, Use
  • Project re-birth: Nature, Strategy, Use

Moreover Linderoth & Pellegrino show that a following the importance of context in building frames. [Thus following the ideas of the learning theory of Constructivism] They show that the sense-making processes to create the frames shift from a global discourse to a local discourse; and thus from a global context to a local context.

2 Responses to “Frames and inscriptions: tracing a way to understand IT-dependent change projects (Linderoth & Pellegrino, 2005)”

  1. […] which are not always disclosed. [Similar to the concept of technological frames described in this article.] Furthermore Boonstra underlined the importance of power as a major attribute for stakeholder […]

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