Material artifacts:practices for doing strategy with 'stuff'


This paper addresses the dearth of research into material artifacts and how they are engaged in strategizing activities. Building on the strategy-as-practice perspective, and the notion of epistemic objects, we develop a typology of strategy practices that show how managers use material artifacts to strategize by a dual process of knowledge abstraction and substitution. Empirically, we study the practice of underwriting managers in reinsurance companies. Our findings first identify the artifacts – pictures, maps, data packs, spreadsheets and graphs – that these managers use to appraise reinsurance deals. Second, the analysis of each artifact’s situated use led to the identification of five practices for doing strategy with artifacts: physicalizing, locating, enumerating, analyzing, and selecting. Last, we developed a typology that shows how practices vary in terms of their level of abstraction from the physical properties of the risk being reinsured and unfold through a process of substituting. Our conceptual framework extends existing work in the strategy-as-practice field that calls for research into the role of material artifacts.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in European management journal. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Jarzabkowski, P, Spee, P & Smets, M, 'Material artifacts: practices for doing strategy with 'stuff'' European management journal, vol. 31, no. 1 (2013) DOI 10.1016/j.emj.2012.09.001
Uncontrolled Keywords: sociomateriality,professional service firms,reinsurance,risk,Strategy and Management
Publication ISSN: 1873-5681
Last Modified: 23 May 2024 17:50
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2013 12:54
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2013-02
Published Online Date: 2012-10-18
Authors: Jarzabkowski, Paula
Spee, Paul
Smets, Michael



Version: Accepted Version

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