Draft of Chapter Three from: Neil Pollock and Robin Williams (2009)
Software and Organizations: The Biography of the Enterprise Solution Or How SAP Conquered theWorld
, London, Routledge.
Chapter Three: The Biography of Artefacts Framework
Here we describe the approach that we will adopt to study these various technologies.Building on earlier studies that have examined the mutual adaptation of technologyand organisation, we develop a framework for investigating the ‘biography’ of software systems. Drawing on work from Science and Technology Studies, MaterialCulture and Cultural History, amongst others, we suggest an approach that follows theactual packages themselves as they evolve and mature, progress along their lifecycle,and move across sectoral and organisational boundaries. In this endeavour we addressmultiple timeframes and locales.
HOW MODES OF RESEARCH FRAME THE ANALYSIS
STS has from the earliest days been concerned to resolve the question of adequatemodels for the analysis of technological innovation and associated societal change –as these frame the analysis and guide the methodology adopted and thereby what it iswe can and cannot find out. This project in particular seeks to apply and furtherdevelop the biography of technology perspective, which emerged from our earlierwork on organisational technologies (Brady
1992; Clausen and Williams 1997;Pollock
2003; Pollock and Cornford 2004). Our aim is to build a comprehensiveunderstanding of the evolution of a technology – encompassing both technologydesign and implementation/use - and how it is shaped by its specific historical contextacross multiple social locales.This research project was designed to exploit the opportunity to achieve insights froma longitudinal contemporaneous study, building upon our earlier research, includingstudies of Computer-Aided Production Management (CAPM) and other integratedautomation systems in the late 1980s and early 1990s that were the progenitors of ERP and other ‘enterprise’ software packages of today (Fleck
1990; Websterand Williams 1993; Fleck 1993; Clausen and Williams 1997). Underpinning thisendeavour was an attempt to develop modes of enquiry that might be adequate to