Enrolment, technical mediation, and the obligatory passage point: a socio-technical examination of the Canada Green Building Council
Building Movements significantly impact society, promoting ideals such as sustainability, modernity, innovation, and well-being, and fundamentally shaping our built environment. In turn, these movements are shaped by society through the direct and indirect action of organizations, individuals, and socio-technical actors. Framed using actor-network theory, this dissertation explores this interrelationship through three related studies. First, the recursive impact of building movements on organizations is explored (Paper 1). Next, a two-part empirical study presents the evolution of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) – a Green Building Movement organization - both in a retrospective history (Paper 2) and in a real-time study as it underwent a significant transition in response to the destabilization of its position in the market (Paper 3). Together, these studies illuminate the role of socio-technical actors in organizations as both internal and external influences. The three papers are organized as follows: Paper 1 establishes the importance of Building Movements as the sites of negotiation between societal values and management prerogatives. Expanding Burrell and Dale’s emplacement-enchantment-enactment framework of spatial control, I demonstrate how the enrolment of these building movements mediates social values alongside management prerogatives into organizations. This enrolment, in turn, translates the Building Movement to better serve the organizations enrolling it. Paper 2 follows the evolution of the CaGBC over a 20-year period, from pre-establishment through maturity. Analysing the socio-technical actors, I found that the technical mediation of socio-technical actors was a primary mechanism of CaGBC’s creating and maintaining activities. In Paper 3, I followed the actors, documenting the actions and communications of the CaGBC through a significant period of transition following the destabilization of their market position and their subsequent response to this crisis. Exploring the impacts of organizational structure, brand, and identity, I found that it shifted from a strong-tie to a weak-tie strategy to reposition itself as the obligatory passage point to widespread industry transformation. Through this set of studies, I have demonstrated the significant role of socio-technical actors in organizations and the recursive impacts of this enrolment.