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Narrative Assembly: Technological Framing, Storytelling, and the Situating of “Data Analytics” in Organizational Life

  • Author(s): Wolf, Christine Therese
  • Advisor(s): Dourish, J. Paul
  • et al.
Abstract

I introduce narrative assembly as a novel conceptual lens to understand the nature of technological meaning making in organizations. This lens extends prior knowledge on technological framing in three ways. First, it offers insight into how narrative making both draws on and seeks to intervene in existing organizational and cultural meaning systems, conceptualizing influence in technological framing as strategic, yet improvised. Second, it demonstrates the dialogue between broader cultural and industrial discourses and everyday practices within an organization, challenging previous views of technological framing as bounded organizationally or by specific platforms. Third, it provides conceptual language to understand the repercussions of technological framing practices on workplace subjectivity, going beyond previous literature that focuses on formal roles and occupations and instead articulating “narrator,” “narrated,” and “audience” as dynamic positions emergent in unfolding technological encounters.

I draw on an ethnographic study of a high-tech firm in the process of an organizational change campaign to include data analytics capabilities in their products. In conceptualizing technological framing as narrative making, I examine a number of ways that the emergent technical capabilities known as “data analytics” came to be understood and situated within the firm’s organizational life. In doing so, my empirical analysis articulates narrative assembly as a lens that captures how technological framing is strategic, yet improvised, relates to broader socio-cultural life, and reveals the contingency of social relations. I discuss how this lens extends prior knowledge and its implications for future studies of technological framing.

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