Understanding Sociomaterial Transformations in Industry 4.0: An Action Research Study



We propose a lifecycle model for sociomaterial transformation in the emergent fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0). Canonical action research is our mode of inquiry, conducted in a traditional ceramic company over a period of eighteen months. The findings suggest that the claimed revolution requires the introduction of combined changes in the social and the material, creating new product lifecycles that emerge from the fusion and co-evolution of different materialities. For practice, our study provides concrete examples and accessible guidelines for industry 4.0 roadmaps in traditional industries. For theory, we (1) explain the sociomaterial nature of industry 4.0 transformation, (2) suggest that sociomateriality is an appropriate theory for design and action, and (3) stress the potential of sociomateriality to strengthen the use of action research in information systems.


Sociomateriality, industry 4.0, digital transformation, lifecycle assessment, action research


Information Systems


Thirty Ninth International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), San Francisco, USA, December 2018

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