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Institutional repositories as portents of change: Disruption or reassembly? Conjectures and re-configurations

Mary Anne Kennan and Fletcher Cole

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


Abstract This paper reviews how Open Access policies (OA) and Institutional Repositories (IR) might be portrayed as agents of change within the realm of scholarly publishing. Using commentary on academic publishing as background, commentary that sees OA and IR as optimal and inevitable, and beneficially disruptive of the existing system, two theoretical approaches are presented as ways of providing a more detailed and explicit analysis of its dynamics. Both theories to varying degrees derive their inspiration from an exploration of the nature of change. The first “disruptive technology” approach (Christensen) specifies change in market theory terms, a re-structuring "driven" by innovation within, and possibly disruptive of, existing market arrangements. The second approach views change as a process of "reassembling" and re-configuring of relationships between elements of a network (Actor-network theory). The application of both approaches to OA/IR is explored, including case study reference to a university institutional repository. While "disruption" and similar terms might be in common and casual use, the basic idea gains greater clarity in these theories, and in doing so promotes greater awareness of the assumptions being made, and the aspirations being pursued.

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