“It's Not the Way We Do Things Here”: The Meaning of Organisational Place When Work Goes on the Move

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:25
Location: Hörsaal 6C P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Lisa WOOD, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
In this institutional ethnography of paramedic work, I explore how mobile work maintains organisational identity when the physical space in which the work takes place is continually changing. In opening up the often-invisible institutional relations and connections, I examine how the introduction of technologies (not just information or communication technologies but a more broader definition of the term) allows for increased remoteness on one hand and forms of proximate control and direction on the other. I argue that such technologies of belonging (or control) can take the form of plans or protocols (physical or virtual) or material elements such as uniform, that shape, influence and control but also facilitate, enable and authorize mobile work to take place.

Drawing on ethnographic ‘work along’ interviews with ambulance crews and ambulance control centre staff, the data is interrogated to elucidate these highly mobile working practices, specifically drawing out practices and technologies that bond work to places or organisations. Through focussing on the actual activities of paramedics as they are engaged in their work, the analysis describes the spaces in which this work takes place and the ways in which the work remains tethered to organisational bases and centres of control.

Modes of ordering, exposed through the institutional ethnography, are unpacked to reveal how mobile work practices are based upon existing and continuously redefined organisational arrangements that are carried and embodied by mobile workers. I argue that tacit processes of knowing and belonging cement mobile work practices. In order to maintain organisational identity during ever changing locations of mobile work, as typified by ambulance work, workers are required to continually perform, embody and represent material, social and technical connections and ties. These performances of order, through ordering, enable (and shape) the work that is subsequently done.