Paul M. Leonardi

Paul M. Leonardi is the Duca Family Professor of Technology Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Car Crashes without Cars (MIT Press).

  • Technology Choices

    Technology Choices

    Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology

    Diane E. Bailey and Paul M. Leonardi

    An analysis of the occupational factors that shape the technology choices made by people who perform the same type of work.

    Why do people who perform largely the same type of work make different technology choices in the workplace? An automotive design engineer working in India, for example, finds advanced information and communication technologies essential, allowing him to work with far-flung colleagues; a structural engineer in California relies more on paper-based technologies for her everyday work; and a software engineer in Silicon Valley operates on multiple digital levels simultaneously all day, continuing after hours on a company-supplied home computer and network connection. In Technology Choices, Diane Bailey and Paul Leonardi argue that occupational factors—rather than personal preference or purely technological concerns—strongly shape workers' technology choices.

    Drawing on extensive field work—a decade's worth of observations and interviews in seven engineering firms in eight countries—Bailey and Leonardi challenge the traditional views of technology choices: technological determinism and social constructivism. Their innovative occupational perspective allows them to explore how external forces shape ideas, beliefs, and norms in ways that steer individuals to particular technology choices—albeit in somewhat predictable and generalizable ways. They examine three relationships at the heart of technology choices: human to technology, technology to technology, and human to human. An occupational perspective, they argue, helps us not only to understand past technology choices, but also to predict future ones.

    • Hardcover $35.00 £27.00
  • Car Crashes without Cars

    Car Crashes without Cars

    Lessons about Simulation Technology and Organizational Change from Automotive Design

    Paul M. Leonardi

    A novel theory of organizational and technological change, illustrated by an account of the development and implementation of a computer-based simulation technology.

    Every workday we wrestle with cumbersome and unintuitive technologies. Our response is usually “That's just the way it is.” Even technology designers and workplace managers believe that certain technological changes are inevitable and that they will bring specific, unavoidable organizational changes. In this book, Paul Leonardi offers a new conceptual framework for understanding why technologies and organizations change as they do and why people think those changes had to occur as they did. He argues that technologies and the organizations in which they are developed and used are not separate entities; rather, they are made up of the same building blocks: social agency and material agency. Over time, social agency and material agency become imbricated—gradually interlocked—in ways that produce some changes we call “technological” and others we call “organizational.”

    Drawing on a detailed field study of engineers at a U.S. auto company, Leonardi shows that as the engineers developed and used a a new computer-based simulation technology for automotive design, they chose to change how their work was organized, which then brought new changes to the technology.Each imbrication of the social and the material obscured the actors' previous choices, making the resulting technological and organizational structures appear as if they were inevitable.

    Leonardi suggests that treating organizing as a process of sociomaterial imbrication allows us to recognize and act on the flexibility of information technologies and to create more effective work organizations.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99

Contributor

  • Digital Research Confidential

    Digital Research Confidential

    The Secrets of Studying Behavior Online

    Eszter Hargittai and Christian Sandvig

    Behind-the-scenes stories of how Internet research projects actually get done.

    The realm of the digital offers both new methods of research and new objects of study. Because the digital environment for scholarship is constantly evolving, researchers must sometimes improvise, change their plans, and adapt. These details are often left out of research write-ups, leaving newcomers to the field frustrated when their approaches do not work as expected. Digital Research Confidential offers scholars a chance to learn from their fellow researchers' mistakes—and their successes.

    The book—a follow-up to Eszter Hargittai's widely read Research Confidential—presents behind-the-scenes, nuts-and-bolts stories of digital research projects, written by established and rising scholars. They discuss such challenges as archiving, Web crawling, crowdsourcing, and confidentiality. They do not shrink from specifics, describing such research hiccups as an ethnographic interview so emotionally draining that afterward the researcher retreated to a bathroom to cry, and the seemingly simple research question about Wikipedia that mushroomed into years of work on millions of data points. Digital Research Confidential will be an essential resource for scholars in every field.

    Contributors Megan Sapnar Ankerson, danah boyd, Amy Bruckman, Casey Fiesler, Brooke Foucault Welles, Darren Gergle, Eric Gilbert, Eszter Hargittai, Brent Hecht, Aron Hsiao, Karrie Karahalios, Paul Leonardi, Kurt Luther, Virág Molnár, Christian Sandvig, Aaron Shaw, Michelle Shumate, Matthew Weber

    • Hardcover $30.00 £24.00
    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00