The Role of Boundary Objects in Platformization Practices: A Case Study of Software Testing

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
While digital platforms are frequently investigated at technical, societal, and organizational levels, there are relatively few empirical studies of the collaborative practices that are involved when platforms are introduced into organizations. In this paper, we investigate such practices in the context of a large-scale platformization project within healthcare. Because off-the-shelf platforms already possess a stable core, platformization processes often focus on downstream system development activities such as configuration and testing. Our case study is about one such downstream activity, i.e., that of software testing. We frame software testing as a sociotechnical process involving tacit knowledge from a variety of user groups. We use the theoretical framework of boundary objects to demonstrate how test artifacts – mainly the test versions of the product – function as boundary objects, used to transfer knowledge among platform developers, those who configure the platform, and future users of the platform. Our findings show when and how boundary objects function or break down. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings both with respect to the boundary objects themselves, and the practices that surround boundary objects to support their collaborative properties.