Pebble in Still Water: How Implementing 3D Printing Reconfigures Boundary Relations in a Hospital

Stavros Polykarpou, Michael Barrett, Samer Faraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines how occupations mobilize, expand or defend their jurisdictional boundaries while simultaneously collaborating when a new technological innovation creates upheaval. We report on a two-year, longitudinal qualitative study of how medical 3D printing – a technology that transforms digital models into physical objects – was implemented in a UK hospital organization. We adopt a practice lens for examining boundary work practices as enacted by different occupational groups, viewing boundaries as relational, dynamic, and in a state of becoming. We extend theory on how occupations enact boundary work practices not only during adversarial encounters but also during multidisciplinary collaboration across disciplinary and knowledge boundaries. We focus on how jurisdictional boundaries are challenged over time; how new competencies are developed, new roles established, status and legitimacy challenged or reinforced and with what occupational consequences for the groups involved. Our findings highlight the ongoing jurisdictional contestations between four groups, presenting an opportunity for unpacking how the materiality of artifacts and spaces is constitutive of the way occupations mobilize, maintain and expand their jurisdictional boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date1 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • AOM Annual Meeting Proceedings 2018
  • AOM Chicago 2018

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