Book Review: How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies

How Matter Matters Book Cover

Paul R. Carlile, Davide Nicolini, Ann Langley, Haridmos Tsoukas , eds.: How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 294 pp. $100.00, hardcover.

You can read the book review by Candace Jones of Boston College in the December 2015 Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly.

This volume challenges the reader, and the various chapters challenge one another indirectly. It raises important questions, such as (1) What are the implications of materiality for process theories? (2) If the social and material are always entangled, where is agency? (3) What does entanglement mean, and what are its boundary conditions?, and (4) Do materials have agency or only properties that constrain and enable human action? The volume clearly focuses on knowledge as the key integrating link. There is, however, an important absence in the volume: the extensive work on place, space, and materialityASQ_v60n4_Dec2015_cover.indd by sociologists such as Gieryn (2000, 2002), Preda (1999), and McDonnell (2010), whose work links directly to knowledge and practice. There is also a tendency for the chapters (except Olsen’s) to emphasize the positives of materiality, while avoiding decay and obstacles of materiality. Finally, as the editors are experts in process theories, I had hoped they would conclude by comparing, debating, and making sense of these diverse and engaging essays, but perhaps other scholars can build on the pieces in this volume to bridge its disciplinary boundaries and create a more unified body of work for organizational researchers.

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