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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Magnus Mähring, Jonny Holmström, Mark Keil and Ramiro Montealegre

This study investigates the potential of actornetwork theory (ANT) for theory development on information technology project escalation, a pervasive problem in…

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Abstract

This study investigates the potential of actornetwork theory (ANT) for theory development on information technology project escalation, a pervasive problem in contemporary organizations. In so doing, the study aims to contribute to the current dialogue on the potential of ANT in the information systems field. While escalation theory has been used to study “runaway” IT projects, two distinct limitations suggest a potential of using ANT: First, there is a need for research that builds process theory on escalation of IT projects. Second, the role of technology as an important factor (or actor) in the shaping of escalation has not been examined. This paper examines a well‐known case study of an IT project disaster, the computerized baggage handling system at Denver International Airport, using both escalation theory and ANT. A theory‐comparative analysis then shows how each analysis contributes differently to our knowledge about dysfunctional IT projects and how the differences between the analyses mirror characteristics of the two theories. ANT is found to offer a fruitful theoretical addition to escalation research and several conceptual extensions of ANT in the context of IT project escalation are proposed: embedded actornetworks, host actornetworks, swift translation and Trojan actornetworks.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Monica Nehemia-Maletzky, Tiko Iyamu and Irja Shaanika

This study aims to examine how both activity theory (AT) and actor network theory (ANT) can be complementarily applied in information system (IS) studies.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine how both activity theory (AT) and actor network theory (ANT) can be complementarily applied in information system (IS) studies.

Design/methodology/approach

The interpretivist approach was followed, within which the qualitative methods were used. Existing literature was gathered as data. The analysis was done by following the interpretive approach.

Findings

Based on the analysis and discussion, a guide for complementary use of both AT and ANT in IS studies was developed. The guide is divided into two parts, which helps to achieve the objectives of the study: complimentary use of AT and ANT in an IS study and order-of-use of both theories in a study, as depicted in the framework.

Originality/value

This study is original in that it has not previously been published in part or full. The results of the study is intended to be of value to both IS postgraduate students and researchers.

Details

Journal of Systems and Information Technology, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1328-7265

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 24 September 2019

Camilla Zanon Bussular, Cecília Gerhardt Burtet and Cláudia Simone Antonello

The actor-network theory (ANT) has been understood as a method, as a way of engaging in the social world and also transform it. The purpose of this paper is to show the ANT

Abstract

Purpose

The actor-network theory (ANT) has been understood as a method, as a way of engaging in the social world and also transform it. The purpose of this paper is to show the ANT methodological aspects, provide an empirical demonstration of this approach as a method, and promote a debate about the implications and importance of understanding it as a method and not just as a theory.

Design/methodology/approach

By analyzing the criticisms of ANT seminal concepts and its repercussions, the authors have offered an understanding of its methodological aspects and its implications for the practice of research. An empirical study conducted in Brazil is presented to exemplify the use of ANT as a method.

Findings

The methodological reflection of this approach starts from the recognition that the methods are part of the social world that they research; they are totally imbued with theoretical representations of this world; they are social because they also help to constitute this social world. As a method, ANT seeks to understand the process of stabilizing practices, negotiations and controversies that are established when such practices are in the process of being. In that sense, following the relational disputes that build a practice before their stabilization is the task to be accomplished for the researcher in the field.

Research limitations/implications

The paper offers relevant contributions to the understanding of ANT as a method. The authors encourage other researchers to venture into the development of this approach in future studies that further explore its methodological character.

Originality/value

There are not many studies on ANT as a method. If ANT is also a method, can we apply it to any research? The authors hope to bring this matter to discussion, understanding and questioning the use of this theoretical-methodological approach in the research fields.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Connecting Values to Action: Non-Corporeal Actants and Choice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-308-2

Article
Publication date: 15 February 2011

Lise Justesen and Jan Mouritsen

This paper aims to discuss how Bruno Latour's version of actornetwork theory has influenced accounting research. It also seeks to show that Latour's writings contain…

9979

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss how Bruno Latour's version of actornetwork theory has influenced accounting research. It also seeks to show that Latour's writings contain unexplored potential that may inspire future accounting research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes the form of a critical literature review and discussion.

Findings

Since the early 1990s, actornetwork theory, particularly the work of Bruno Latour, has inspired accounting researchers and led to a number of innovative studies of accounting phenomena. In particular, Latour's book, Science in Action, has been the primary source of inspiration for accounting research. This means that there is unexplored potential in Latour's more recent writings which may lead to further inspiration and research in the field of accounting.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reviews only a few of the relatively large number of accounting papers that apply actornetwork theory. A different sample might have given a somewhat different picture. Furthermore, it focuses on the influence of Latour's work and refrains from discussing how the writings of Michel Callon, John Law or other thinkers within the actornetwork tradition are used in accounting research.

Originality/value

This is the first extensive review discussing the influence of Latour on accounting research that engages in a critical discussion of under‐explored potential in Latour's recent work.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Emile Silvis and Patricia M. Alexander

Actor-network theory (ANT) is considered to be both a theoretical position and a methodology. ANT has been the centre of vigorous debates regarding its ontological…

1825

Abstract

Purpose

Actor-network theory (ANT) is considered to be both a theoretical position and a methodology. ANT has been the centre of vigorous debates regarding its ontological viewpoint but has also been found to have some drawbacks as a methodology. The purpose of this paper is to use a graphical syntax for ANT to describe the development and implementation of a health information system (IS) in order to assess whether the graphical syntax improves the use of ANT as a methodology.

Design/methodology/approach

An extensive example derived from a case study, describing the development and implementation of an electronic patients’ records system, is illustrated using this graphical syntax. This serves to makes the actors, translations and black boxes in the case visible.

Findings

The syntax is found to help the researcher to conceptualise the research, to highlight assumptions as black boxes and to follow the actor but above all it encourages the researcher to understand the translations being made between actors and to make them explicit. Hence the syntax is found to assist at the analytical phases of a research project. The graphic syntax found to address the criticisms identified for ANT as an IS research methodology.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed graphical syntax assists researchers who use ANT as a methodology. Use of the syntax in education is also foreseen to be practical. The evaluation of ANT-gs in the paper provides an argument for its use but a more reliable argument would be made by collating and analysing feedback from independent modellers who actually use the graphical syntax. This is an important part of future research.

Practical implications

The visualisation of the actor-network provided by ANT-gs provides a relatively simple representation while at the same time it makes key ANT concepts explicit. This is expected to address the issue of superficial understanding of ANT and selective use of its constructs; it makes the actor-network boundaries immediately visible. Thus the paper proposes that ANT-gs will be useful both by IS researchers and as an educational tool but future research is required to verify both these practical implications. The development of a computer-based modelling tool based on this syntax is proposed to facilitate effective and efficient modelling.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a unique tool to support ANT as a methodology. Its use encourages the researcher to focus on constructs that are essential elements of ANT and, by making each of the translation instances explicit, it strengthens the analysis in a way that is true to the view of ANT as a sociology of translation.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 June 2013

Antti Rautiainen and Robert W. Scapens

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the compatibility of actor network theory (ANT) and new institutional sociology (NIS) in analysing a case study of accounting change.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the compatibility of actor network theory (ANT) and new institutional sociology (NIS) in analysing a case study of accounting change.

Design/methodology/approach

This is an interpretive case study.

Findings

The Finnish case city experienced several path‐dependent changes concerning performance measurement (PM), financial reporting and the adoption of enterprise resource planning system (ERP). New tools such as the ERP have a potential to transform the actors and to change the agency of the actors. Furthermore, the concepts drawing on both ANT and NIS can together enrich analyses of accounting changes.

Research limitations/implications

The case analysis suggests guidelines for using ANT and/or NIS in accounting studies.

Practical implications

Understanding accounting developments as an intentional and path‐dependent process affected and constrained by complex networks, pressures and actors should contribute to better management of accounting changes.

Originality/value

Being informed by both ANT and NIS improves our understanding of accounting change and stability, serendipity, practice variations, changes beyond the minimum required to satisfy external requirements, and of the continued use of some accounting tools despite their limited functionality. Furthermore, we introduce the concepts dynamic agency and constrained transformation for studies of accounting change.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 April 2011

Daniel Sage, Andrew Dainty and Naomi Brookes

The purpose of this paper is to question why current thinking towards project complexity ignores the role of objects in achieving social order and transformation. An…

2253

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to question why current thinking towards project complexity ignores the role of objects in achieving social order and transformation. An alternative, but complementary, approach to address project complexities, drawing upon actornetwork theory (ANT), is offered to redress this concern.

Design/methodology/approach

Current thinking towards project complexity is briefly reviewed in the first section to illustrate the reasons why nonhumans are downplayed. An historical case study, the Skye road bridge project, is mobilized to explain, and develop, an ANT perspective on project complexities, and responses to such complexities.

Findings

ANT develops accounts of project complexity by highlighting the role of nonhumans in influencing how practitioners register, respond and stabilize project complexities. Front‐end planning and stakeholder analysis is shown to be only one narrow element of four moments through which actors apprehend and stabilize project complexities.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical case study is developed to suggest some significant ways in which ANT could contribute, and complement, extant theories of project complexity. Alternative approaches to socio‐materiality are noted and may yield other important insights.

Originality/value

The paper positions ANT to offer a novel theory of project complexity. It is intended to be primarily of use to project management researchers, and theoretically informed practitioners, who are interested in developing fresh insights into notions of project complexities (unintended consequences, emergence and unpredictability).

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 5 July 2017

Lawrence T. Corrigan and Albert J. Mills

In this chapter we explore the relationship between current gendered practices and past conditions through the lens of actor-network theory (ANT). In particular we are…

Abstract

In this chapter we explore the relationship between current gendered practices and past conditions through the lens of actor-network theory (ANT). In particular we are interested in the viability of ANT as a lens for studying the past and in ways that can be reconciled with feminist thought. We argue that although there is some nonresonance between ANT and feminist theorizing, using ANT in a critically historicist way allows some of the barriers between ANT and feminism to be broken down. We synthesize an approach to study gendered organizational processes that exist in and over time, identifying and surfacing some of the actants (i.e., human and material factors that encourage people to act) that work together within networks to produce gendered effects such as ongoing discriminatory practices. We trace these effects using the history of Air Canada as an exemplar, in the process noting the conceptual and ontological differences between the past and history. Finally, the advantages of a critically historical ANT are discussed as a way to achieve a level of fusion between ANT and feminist thought.

Details

Insights and Research on the Study of Gender and Intersectionality in International Airline Cultures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-546-7

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 25 July 2019

Sven Modell

The purpose of this paper is to contrast actor-network theory (ANT) and critical realism (CR) as two contemporary approaches to critical accounting research and advance a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contrast actor-network theory (ANT) and critical realism (CR) as two contemporary approaches to critical accounting research and advance a critique centred on the neglect of social structures in the former perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper based on a critical reading of ANT inspired by CR.

Findings

Although the author does not question the ability of ANT to be imbued with critical intent per se, the author is critical of its tendency to downplay the significance of pre-existing, social structures and the concomitant neglect of enduring and ubiquitous states of structural stability as an ontological possibility. This may lead to an overly optimistic view that naively valorises agency as a largely unfettered engine of emancipation. By contrast, CR offers a deeper and more nuanced ontological conception of how social structures constrain as well as enable emancipation. In contrast to the highly empiricist epistemology of ANT, it also provides an epistemological rationale for going beyond empirical descriptions of how social structures work to advance theoretically informed, explanatory critiques that are better suited for realising less easily observable opportunities for emancipation.

Research limitations/implications

The paper advances the debate about how social structures should be examined in critical accounting research and the relative merits of doing so in advancing emancipatory projects.

Originality/value

The paper is an attempt to contrast ANT and CR as two distinct approaches to critical accounting research and thus extends the debate about what such research is and could be.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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