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Car Crashes without Cars

Lessons about Simulation Technology and Organizational Change from Automotive Design

Paul M. Leonardi

Publication Year: 2012

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

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Acting with Technology

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book provides an ethnographic account of people’s work. People love to talk about their work. In fact, most ethnographers joke that the hard part is not getting people to talk about what they do; it’s getting them to shut up! To get people to talk candidly about their experiences, I promised them anonymity. ...

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Chapter 1. Perceptions of Inevitability

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pp. 1-20

In August of 2005, a team of experienced technology developers at Autoworks—the pseudonym that will be used here for a major American automaker1—filed into a dark conference room for yet another meeting with consultants from a young and eager software startup firm. ...

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Chapter 2. Between Technological and Organizational Change

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pp. 21-54

Virtually all social scientific research on technology and organization—whether by promoting or denying it—owes some intellectual debt to technologically deterministic thinking. Early studies adopted deterministic perspectives to provide causal explanations of technological and organizational change, ...

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Chapter 3. Crashworthiness Analysis at Autoworks

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pp. 55-84

The framework laid out in chapter 2 suggests several important considerations for the ethnographic study of mutually constitutive technological and organizational change. First, understanding the social construction process surrounding any technology means collecting data on the events that occur during development, implementation, and use of the technology. ...

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Chapter 4. Developing Problems and Solving Technologies

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pp. 85-130

A growing number of methodologies for developing new technologies suggest that unless developers understand the needs of their users, they will generate products that have little impact on the organizations that use them and the markets that support them. ...

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Chapter 5. Articulating Visions of Technology and Organization

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pp. 131-176

By 1995, crashworthiness analysts were still playing a decidedly reactive role in the vehicle development process at Autoworks. Design engineers alerted analysts when CAD releases of parts or subassemblies were ready for testing, and analysts worked to validate the crashworthiness performance of the designs. ...

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Chapter 6. Interpreting Relationships between the Social and the Material

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pp. 177-234

Researchers interested in understanding the organizational consequences of implementing new information technology have suggested that stasis or change in social structure can be traced to the ways users interpret the functionality of a new artifact (Boudreau and Robey 2005; Constantinides and Barrett 2006). ...

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Chapter 7. Appropriating Material Features to Change Work

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pp. 235-264

In October of 2005, Andrew Guizek, an analyst in the Strut Group, was attempting to use CrashLab to set up a model for an IIHS side-impact test. As he waited for his model to load, he made an interesting and rather colorful comment: ...

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Chapter 8. Organizing as a Process of Sociomaterial Imbrication

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pp. 265-292

I began this book by suggesting that people who work with new technologies, whether they are developers, trainers, managers, or users, often come to a somewhat fatalistic understanding of technological change. Indeed, the results of numerous studies report that developers regularly adopt the view that the material features of a new technology ...


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pp. 293-302


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pp. 303-312


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pp. 313-330


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pp. 331-334

E-ISBN-13: 9780262305778
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262017848

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Acting with Technology