New articles

Pelizza, A. and Kuhlmann, S. (2017), ‘Mining Governance Mechanisms. Innovation policy, practice and theory facing algorithmic decision-making’, in Carayannis, E. G., Campbell, D. F., Efthymiopoulos, M. P. (Eds.), Handbook of Cyber-Development, Cyber-Democracy, and Cyber-Defense. (Berlin: Springer). Doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-06091-0_29-1

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Abstract. The shift from governance of to governance by information infrastructures has major implications for innovation policy. With algorithmic
governance, regimes of inclusion/exclusion “sink” in information infrastructures that act as decision-makers. Inclusive governance of innovation thus needs to dig deeper into technological details. This chapter focuses on one major aspect that characterizes algorithmic decision-making, namely, the overlap between policy and practice.
Drawing upon the innovation dance metaphor, we ask whether anyspace for theory can be acknowledged when algorithmic governance tightly couples policy and practice. We first attempt to theoretically answer this question by introducing the Science and Technology Studies notion of “de-scription” as a translation of rules and behaviors from extrasomatic material devices to explicit textual instructions. We propose that space for innovation theory can be conceived of as a descriptive activity. We then exemplify the overlapping argument against the case of blockchain technologies. Blockchains are the algorithmic software underpinning peer-to-peer electronic payment systems – the most renowned of which is Bitcoin. We argue that blockchains “inscribe trust” into software and thus constitute selfstanding governance mechanisms. By analyzing a recent controversy in the Bitcoin community, we show that space for theory is more likely to emerge when a controversy arises, which requires description in order to recruit new allies. This evidence suggests that the relationship between theory and inclusion might be inverted: inclusion might not be the outcome of theory, but space for theory is the result of controversies in which opposite factions carry out recruitment strategies.


Pelizza, A. (2016), ‘Disciplining Change, Displacing Frictions. Two structural dimensions of digital circulation across land registry database integration’, Tecnoscienza. Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies, 7(2): 35-60.

Avaliable as open access at

Abstract. Data acquire meaning through circulation. Yet most approaches to high-quality data aim to flatten this stratification of meanings. In
government, data quality is achieved through integrated systems of authentic registers that reduce multiple trajectories to a single, official one. These
systems can be conceived of as technologies to settle “data frictions”, controversies about which configurations of actors, agencies, sources and
events produce more reliable data. Data frictions uncover two dimensions of data circulation: not only along the syntagmatic axis of alignment, but also along the paradigmatic axis of replacement. Drawing on empirical research investigating database integration at the Dutch land registry (Kadaster), this article aims to contribute to the theorization of digital circulation by recalling two semiotic dimensions along which circulation happens. It argues that even when complex infrastructures are implemented to discipline change, data frictions are not silenced, but displaced along the syntagmatic/paradigmatic axes.


Pelizza, A., ‘Reshuffling the Government Machine. IT knowledge asymmetries as sociomaterial “capabilities”’ (under review at European Journal of Information Systems).

Abstract. This article addresses knowledge asymmetries between civil service and industry in IT outsourcing. Its goal is twofold: to rethink underlying assumptions in IT outsourcing in the public sector under a constructivist perspective; to extend research goals in IT management in the public sector to account for implications of outsourcing for the broader political order.

Updating Science and Technology Studies (STS) ‘interessement device’ concept and developing narrative accounts of information system (IS) design and implementation, the article compares two case-studies: one in which IS practices made civil service expertise irrelevant, and one in which they valued it. It moves two arguments.

First, while literature conceives of knowledge in essentialist terms, this article suggests that knowledge asymmetries are far from ‘natural’. It empirically counters the argument on civil service’s lack of technological skills, and argues that actors are not experts because they hold generic technical knowledge, but because they are well-positioned in the configuration that makes a specific type of knowledge relevant.

Second, the article suggests that IS-embedded re-articulations of insider/outsider government boundaries can be conceived of as ‘capabilities for denationalization’, as theorized by non-essentialist political studies. Furthermore, the article contributes to client/consultants literature by stressing the sociomaterial nature of the relationship.


Knowledge asymmetry, IT outsourcing, government, constructivism, sociomateriality, capabilities