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ERIC Number: ED519531
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 217
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-4886-4
Institutional Expansion: The Case of Grid Computing
Kertcher, Zack
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Chicago
Evolutionary and revolutionary approaches have dominated the study of scientific, technological and institutional change. Yet, being focused on change within a single field, these approaches have been mute about a third, pervasive process. This process is found in a variety of cases that range from open source software to the Monte Carlo method to informatics--the work of individuals and organizations to integrate knowledge, technology, organizational structures and practices across fields. The aim of this manuscript is to explore and develop theory about this third model of change, which I term "institutional expansion." The research context consists of a computer technology called grid computing and global networks of scientific innovators, firms, and adopters in a variety of fields of science and industry. Using in-depth interviews, a year-long ethnography and extensive archival analysis, I identify several mechanisms that underlie multi-field institutional expansion. Extending social network and actor-network theory, I suggest "co-linking" to be a principal mean of expansion. Striving to broaden the adoption of the technology they develop, innovators link-up with entrepreneurial adopters in fields that have generalizable problems. However, by collaborating with adopters to develop technologies that address new problems, innovators disrupt development trajectories traditionally pursued in their own field. While co-linking results in technological and institutional change, I claim that it also leads to the creation of entirely new areas of work. By conducting in-depth studies of grid development projects, I also consider the challenges facing innovators and entrepreneurial adopters who seek pervasive adoption in different fields. While current research on the diffusion of innovation suggests that innovation flows through social networks, I contend that three types of cultural and cognitive gaps hinder this process. Findings strongly indicate that collaborators utilize human, organizational and technological "adapters" to translate practices and knowledge across culturally incompatible fields and enable institutional expansion. Finally, this research seeks to explore the coordination of meaning of a meta-category, such as grid computing. Building on boundary object theory and considering the work of over 1,000 organizations that sought to develop grid standards, I suggest that, like the ancient parable of the blind men and the elephant, groups of participants were able to participate by focusing on different aspects of the grid elephant. Conflict, however, occurred when other elephants emerged in this ecology and vied for resources. I claim that these conflicts among elephants led to fundamental transformations of the studied technology. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A