The use of abstract artefacts in prospective sensemaking processes for assessing emerging technologies
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22nd CINet Conference - Organizing Innovation for a Sustainable Future
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This research seeks to explore the role of materiality as epistemic and boundary objects in strategy and foresight by focusing on the concept of abstractness. We aim to accomplish this by zooming in on how a heterogeneous group of actors - in terms of functional-, industry- and occupational background - created, reflected upon, and were guided by what we call ?abstract artefacts? to make sense of an emerging technology. In doing so, we investigate what types of abstract artefacts actors produced, which logics they employed in developing them, what purpose these abstract artefacts served at different stages of the prospective sensemaking process, and how they shaped inter-subjective sensemaking betweenactors from different industry backgrounds. Our main theoretical contribution is geared towards a better understanding of the nuanced differences and affordances of abstract materiality. Through our introduction of abstract artefacts as an important ?sensemaking resource? we also attempt to answer calls made by scholars to provide insights on the distinctive temporal aspects of sensemaking processes. Finally, we intend to demonstrate how abstract artefacts as either epistemic- or boundary objects are employed during strategizing activities that are temporally located in the distant-future, where ambiguity and equivocality is high and potential outcomes or consequences of (non)action have not yet been made sense of.