Kjellberg, H (2010) Struggling to perform a warehouse: buildings as symbols and tools. Construction Management and Economics, 28(6), 675-94.
This paper is available for free download until 31 January 2012.
Abstract: The built environment and the way in which it is understood critically affect many business enterprises. Despite its importance, few studies have explicitly investigated the process through which changes to the built environment are introduced into ongoing businesses. To this end the methodological principles of the sociology of translation (ANT) were employed to generate a historical account of one such change process. Specifically, the account describes how a major Swedish food wholesaler introduced one-storey warehouses into their operations. This introduction was linked to a transformation of the warehouse as such: in the 1940s the wholesaler viewed its warehouses as symbols (‘outward signs of inner strength’) while ideas from the US suggested another identity—that of a tool for wholesale operations. The efforts of the wholesaler to realize this new identity included investments in metrologies, organization schemes, and concrete, suggesting that theoretical perspectives on objects are not generally applicable but require perspective-specific investments in ‘words and their worlds’. Viewing the realization of an object-perspective as a performation struggle (Callon, 2007) it is suggested that this process of adjustment unfolds through interplay between presenting and re-presenting the world.