A Relational Approach to Materiality and Organizing: The Case of a Creative Idea

Publication Type:

IFIP Paper


Beyond Interpretivism? New Encounters with Technology and Organization, Springer International Publishing, Cham, p.143–166 (2016)




In this paper, we propose to go beyond the notion of entanglement that has been proposed in recent years to fill the so-called gap between ``the social'' and ``the material'', especially in organizational studies. While this notion rightly invites us to reconsider the way we traditionally approach the question of materiality and organizing, we believe that its formulation tends to implicitly reproduce the gap it claims to fill. In contrast, we propose a view according to which sociality and materiality should, in fact, be considered aspects of everything that comes to be and exist. Throughout the analysis of an episode taken from fieldwork devoted to creative teams, we show that things as abstract as ideas, for instance, in order to emerge, exist, and continue to exist, have to materialize themselves in various identifiable beings. While the sociality of an idea is identified through the various relations that make it what it is, we show that its materiality comes from what precisely materializes these relations.