Reconfiguring Boundary Relations: Robotic Innovations in Pharmacy Work

Michael Barrett, Eivor Oborn, Wanda Orlikowski, JoAnne Yates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Robotics is a rapidly expanding area of digital innovation with important implications for organizational practice in multi-occupational settings. This paper explores the influence of robotic innovations on the boundary dynamics of three different occupational groups — pharmacists, technicians, and assistants — working in a hospital pharmacy. We extend Pickering’s tuning approach to examine the temporally emergent process that entangled the mechanical elements and digital inscriptions of a dispensing robot with the everyday practices of hospital pharmacy work. We found that engagement with the robot’s hybrid and dynamic materiality over time reconfigured boundary relations among the three occupational groups, with important and contradictory consequences for the pharmacy workers’ skills, jurisdictions, status, and visibility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Science
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Implementation of new technology, robots, digital innovation, materiality, boundaries

Cite this