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The digital undertow and institutional displacement: a sociomaterial approach

Orlikowski, Wanda J. and Scott, Susan V. ORCID: 0000-0002-8775-9364 (2023) The digital undertow and institutional displacement: a sociomaterial approach. Organization Theory, 4 (2).

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Identification Number: 10.1177/26317877231180


As “the digital” becomes pervasive within organizations and industries, it is increasingly evident that how we live, work, connect, coordinate, and govern are being significantly changed by digitalization. Many of these digital transformations are highly visible and dramatic, involving a purposeful repositioning and restructuring of organizations and industries. But in addition to these direct and visible changes, we argue that processes of digitalization are also producing less visible transformations in core institutional values, norms, and rules, which are indirectly, yet more fundamentally, reconfiguring how organizations and industries perform. Referencing findings from two different sectors, we posit that the corollary effects of waves of digitalization — what we conceptualize as the “digital undertow” — are generating a set of dynamics that are displacing institutional apparatuses from their positions of primacy and authority within industries. We further suggest that our conventional toolkits for studying organizational phenomena are not well equipped to examining such corollary effects of digitalization. In addressing this challenge, we consider how the relational and performative theorizing of strong sociomateriality provides a powerful analytic for investigating these effects and we highlight how it offers valuable insights into the institutional displacements arising in the digital undertow.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Date Deposited: 26 May 2023 10:21
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 07:30

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