What is a “boundary object”?


The concept introduced by [Susan Leigh Star](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Leigh_Star) and [James R. Griesemer](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_R._Griesemer). Please explain it to me in the simplest way possible using simple, real life, relatable example.

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Anonymous 0 Comments

A boundary object is a thing, usually an abstract thing, which is shared between groups of people. It allows those groups to collaborate and communicate even when they have different goals and understandings, and the object will mean different things to those different groups.

When I do some research I often create prototypes to show people. These prototypes are boundary objects because they allow different people to communicate even though they have different understandings and background knowledge.

To me, the prototype is a way of fulfilling requirements so I can be awarded my PhD.

To my supervisors, the prototype is a novel piece of research that advances the scientific knowledge of the area I work in.

To my corporate sponsors, the prototype is a possible future revenue stream.

To my research faculty, the prototype is an opportunity to gain recognition and reputation for good research.

We will all communicate about our particular desires and requirements. My supervisors will want to make sure it is rigorously tested, but my sponsors will be more interested in having it marketable as soon as possible. I would prefer to move on to the next interesting thing. The faculty want it submitted to a high-ranking publication. We will all need to compromise.

The object sits at the boundary and facilitates this communication and collaboration.