Characterising Integration in Practice: A Case Study of Collaborative Infrastructure Change in a Large Oil and Gas Company
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This thesis investigates collaborative work practices in a large oil and gas company (OGC), with special attention being given to recent integration and standardisation efforts to the collaborative infrastructure for improving knowledge sharing practices across disciplinary and geographical boundaries. Through a longitudinal case study, the thesis investigates how these efforts unfold in different organisational contexts. This dissertation is inspired by social studies of Information Systems (IS) and more recent debates on the mediating role of integrated systems. Drawing on the interdisciplinary field of science studies, the thesis investigates how working integrated systems are established in practice. Through the use of vivid empirical examples, previous research has illustrated how various systems do not account for locally unique practices, resulting in them having to be worked-around. In this research, we make a distinction between stand-alone and integrated information systems since local enactments have different dynamics. In particular, we argue that as opposed to largely local, independent contexts of enacted technology, the use of integrated systems implies the interdependent enactment across contexts now linked as a result of the integration. For that reason, we aim to contribute to a higher visibility of cross-contextual effects regarding the use of integrated information systems. The thesis is not restricted to investigations of a single integrated system, but instead aims to understand work practices which span multiple contexts and are supported by multiple enterprise systems. The primary aim is to investigate the core work practices related to oil and gas production. In contrast to social studies of IS which tend to emphasise that work is a predominantly local affair, our aim is to empirically illustrate and analytically discuss cross-contextual (i.e. non-local) aspects of work. We exemplify the array of strategies needed to sort out local differences and establish cross-contextual work practices, thereby leading us to emphasise the temporal and performative aspects of integration. As a whole, this thesis investigates socio-technical work practices within a large-scale heterogeneous organisation and aims to contribute to the literature on the social construction of information systems and provide practical implications for managing integrated information systems.
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