This paper presents a case study of the development of electronic communications in a changing organization with the aim of studying the complex relationship between content and context in the design and implementation of technological change in communications. The development of a computer-mediated communication system was followed over a period of four years during which time the participating organization expanded by acquisition and then reformed in conjunction with its neighbours in other countries into an integrated, ‘networked’ organization in preparation for the creation of the Single European Market.
The Actor-Network approach, which uses a network metaphor as a framework for understanding the relationship between content and context in technology design, is used to explore the co-construction of the new organizational form and the new communications system. We contrast this approach with traditional and other recently proposed approaches and conclude that the study of actor-networks affords an opportunity to transcend the dualities between the technical and the social and between content and context that currently frame studies of electronic communications in organizations.
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