Prior research suggests that boundary objects gain meaning through group interaction. Drawing from the literature on strategic ambiguity, we explore the possibility that individuals strategically create potential boundary objects in an attempt to shape the meanings that groups develop. From ethnographic observations of automotive engineers, we identify 2 creation strategies: ambiguity (to create objects that support multiple meanings) and clarity (to create objects that permit a particular meaning). We detail design activities that engineers undertook to create objects under each strategy. We find that, when creating objects, engineers favored a strategy of ambiguity, which they believed would foster healthy long-term group interactions, over a strategy of clarity, which they tended to employ only when they expected resistance to their ideas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language