Sociomaterialism Theory

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Acronym

N/A

Alternate name(s)

N/A

Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Firm Performance, Organizational performance

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Social and Material dimensions like IT skills, IT capability and IT infrastructure.

Concise description of theory

Sociomaterialism perspective argues that social and materiality aspects are entangled or interlinked in an organizational life. (Orlikowski, 2007) elucidated that social and materiality dimensions are inseparable and related. From this theoretical lens, it is considered as the technology and the humans are inextricable. The literature of sociomateriality is a part of Actor Network Theory (ANT), which was developed by sociologists Michel Callon and Bruno Latour. As per ANT, the social and technological elements interact with each other and are indistinct.

The conceptualization of Sociomaterialism in IS literature posits that the organizational (i.e., IT management), physical (i.e., IT infrastructure), and human or social (e.g., skills and knowledge) dimensions are interlinked and it is difficult to measure these dimensions separately. According to (Orlikowski & Scott, 2008), “sociomateriality is integral, inherent, and constitutive, shaping the contours and possibilities of everyday organizing”. In our everyday life, there are innumerous sociomaterial examples. For example, the web search engine is sociomaterial, as the coders (computer engineers developed it), and they update it regularly, which in turn used by millions of users every day on different computer systems, which was developed by some other engineers and production workers. Hence, all dimensions are entangled and exists together. Identification of an individual dimension in isolation can not be done. Therefore, sociomaterial perspective helps in understanding the interlinkages of these social, material, and technological dimensions in organizational life.  

Diagram/schematic of theory

Sociomaterialism Diagram.png

Originating author(s)

Wanda Orlikowski and Susan Scott

Seminal articles

Orlikowski, W. J. (2007). Sociomaterial practices: Exploring technology at work. Organization Studies, 28(9), 1435–1448. https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840607081138

Orlikowski, W. J. (2009). The sociomateriality of organisational life: Considering technology in management research. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1), 125–141. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bep058

Orlikowski, W. J., & Scott, S. V. (2008). 10 Sociomateriality: Challenging the Separation of Technology, Work and Organization. The Academy of Management Annals, 2(1), 433–474. https://doi.org/10.1080/19416520802211644

Level of analysis

Organizational level

Links to WWW sites describing theory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociomateriality

Links from this theory to other theories

Actor-network theory

IS articles that use the theory

Akter, S., & Wamba, S. F. (2016). Big data analytics in E-commerce: a systematic review and agenda for future research. Electronic Markets, 26(2), 173–194. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-016-0219-0

Akter, S., Wamba, S. F., Gunasekaran, A., Dubey, R., & Childe, S. J. (2016). How to improve firm performance using big data analytics capability and business strategy alignment? International Journal of Production Economics, 182, 113–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpe.2016.08.018

Kim, G., Shin, B., & Kwon, O. (2012). Investigating the value of sociomaterialism in conceptualizing it capability of a firm. Journal of Management Information Systems, 29(3), 327–362. https://doi.org/10.2753/MIS0742-1222290310

External Links

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&q=Sociomateriality+theory

Contributor(s)

Mohammed Nawazish, Doctoral Student at Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, India.

Date last updated

19/10/2020 Please feel free to make modifications to this site. In order to do so, you must register.