Relation work: Creating socio-technical connections in global engineering

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Springer, London
In this article the notion of relation work will be put forward to describe efforts of connecting people and artefacts in a multitude of ways as part of facilitating global interaction and coordination in an engineering firm. Relation work can be seen as a parallel to the concept of articulation work. Articulation work describes efforts of coordination necessary in cooperative work, but, arguably, focuses mainly on taskspecific aspects of cooperative work. As a supplement, the concept of relation work focuses on the fundamental relational aspect of cooperative work. Relation work forms the fundamental activities of creating socio-technical connections between people and artefacts during collaborative activities required to create and enact the human and electronic network and engage with articulation work in cooperative engagements. The concept of relation work is applied within an ethnographic study of War Room meetings in a Global engineering firm. It is argued that relation work is a perquisite for other activities such as articulation work. Relation work is described in a number of dimensions, including connecting people with people, people with artefacts, and artefacts with other artefacts.