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Article
Publication date: 12 October 2012

Jostein Langstrand and Mattias Elg

The importance of social issues is well established in the literature on resistance to change. However, much can be gained by including physical objects in the analysis…

Abstract

Purpose

The importance of social issues is well established in the literature on resistance to change. However, much can be gained by including physical objects in the analysis. Using actor‐network theory, this paper aims to explore the resistance of non‐human actors in organizational change and contribute to an expanded understanding of resistance to change.

Design/methodology/approach

The article is based on a longitudinal case study of the introduction of lean in a large Swedish manufacturing company. The empirical basis consists of interviews, observations and document studies. Actor‐network theory is used as a theoretical lens to identify non‐human resistance to change.

Findings

The paper proposes that non‐human actors can inhibit change through a lack of alignment with the overall change initiative. This may cause large variation in the interpretation of the proposed change and a lengthy process of construction and negotiation. The paper provides examples of four different types of non‐human resistance that result from this lack of alignment.

Practical implications

It is proposed that change initiatives need to be aligned with existing practice and anchored in objects that are integrated in organizational routines. The four types of non‐human resistance presented in the paper may be used as a checklist to reduce the risk of failure.

Originality/value

The predominant focus on social issues tends to disregard the impact of the physical environment in change processes. Actor‐network theory and the inclusion of the physical environment will help to expand and improve the understanding of resistance to change.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 25 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 9 November 2020

Salam Abdallah, Mohsin Malik and Uzma Chaudhry

This paper tracks the network of actors participating in the initial implementation of a “Lean management” system, in order to identify associations between human and…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper tracks the network of actors participating in the initial implementation of a “Lean management” system, in order to identify associations between human and non-human participants conducive to successful adoption of the system.

Design/methodology/approach

The perspective of actor–network theory (ANT) helps reveal the complex dynamics at play in a “Lean” intervention at a manufacturing firm. It allows to identify key actors (human and non-human), as well as the possible associations between them, and helps produce network diagrams to track the changes in actors' roles and in network coherence over time.

Findings

Through a network analysis, the study charts the complexity of the process of Lean intervention, by accounting for the distinct possibility that actors' roles may shift over time, as they engage and disengage with the proposed intervention, until they fully cohere into a new system. Based on this, it derives a conceptual model to describe relevant factors for successful implementation of Lean improvement projects.

Originality/value

The ANT perspective affords new insights into Lean Management systems implementation, by highlighting associations between human and non–human actors. This novel focus suggests corresponding management guidelines and reflective practices for successful intervention.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Shona Hunter and Elaine Swan

The paper has two purposes: to introduce a new perspective on power and resistance in equalities work; and to trouble either or theorisations of success and failure in…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper has two purposes: to introduce a new perspective on power and resistance in equalities work; and to trouble either or theorisations of success and failure in this work. Instead it offers a new means of exploring micro‐practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper applies/develops an “actor network theory” (ANT) analysis to a single case study of Iopia, a Black woman equalities practitioner working in a prison education context. It uses this to explore the ways in which Iopia interacts with a variety of human and non‐human objects to challenge racism in this context.

Findings

Iopia, from an initial position of marginality (as a Black woman experiencing racism) is able to establish herself (by virtue of this same identity as a Black woman combating racism) as central to a “new” network for equality and diversity. This new network both challenges and sustains narrow exclusionary definitions of diversity. Thus, Iopia's case provides an example of the contradictions, and paradox, experienced by those working for equality and diversity.

Research limitations/implications

In the future, this type of feminist ANT analysis could be more fully developed and integrated with critical race and other critical cultural theories as these relate to equalities work.

Practical implications

The approach, and, in particular, the notion of translation, can be used by practitioners in thinking through the ways in which they can use material objects to draw in multiple “others” into their own networks.

Originality/value

The article is one of the first to explore equalities workers via the lens of ANT. It is unique in its analysis of the material objects constituting both diversity workers and diversity work and thus its analysis of diversity workers and their work as part of a complex set of social and “material” relations.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

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Article
Publication date: 9 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…

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

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Article
Publication date: 26 January 2021

Zelinna Pablo, Kerry London, Peter S.P. Wong and Malik Khalfan

Current understandings of innovation in construction portray it as linear, deterministic phenomena centered around novel objects and technologies deployed in…

Abstract

Purpose

Current understandings of innovation in construction portray it as linear, deterministic phenomena centered around novel objects and technologies deployed in sequentially-organized supply chains. This study aims to develop an enriched understanding of construction innovation as non-linear, socio-material and dynamic phenomena in complex networks by formulating a novel conceptual apparatus of complex adaptive supply networks (CASNs) expanded through actor-network theory (ANT) concepts.

Design/methodology/approach

This combined CASN/ANT apparatus is mobilized in the context of a qualitative case study involving a housing construction supply network in Australia making use of offsite manufacturing (OSM) techniques.

Findings

The study shows that innovative technologies such as novel OSM products can play an important though not necessarily deterministic role in the evolution of CASNs. The study also explicates the process by which the enrollment of non-human agents and the resulting CASN evolution are linked: innovative technologies shape human and non-human interactions in ways that redefine task delegation, role definition and schemas that are fundamental to the shape of CASNs.

Originality/value

Findings provide a compelling empirical basis for arguing that CASNs must be conceptualized as heterogeneous systems and that innovation in construction must be understood as non-linear, socio-material and dynamic, rather than linear and driven by technological determinism. The study also interrogates limiting notions of supply chains and supports the notion of alternative inter-organizational forms to understand construction project work.

Details

Construction Innovation , vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

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Article
Publication date: 28 September 2010

Sue Smith, Mary Rose and Ellie Hamilton

The purpose of this paper is to tell the story of the evolution of knowledge exchange (KE) activity within a department in a university in the north west of England and to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to tell the story of the evolution of knowledge exchange (KE) activity within a department in a university in the north west of England and to understand this activity through the lens of actor‐network theory.

Design/methodology/approach

Applying the sociology of translation to one qualitative interview shows how different actors were enrolled and mobilized into a KE actor‐network. The process of translation consists of four stages, problematisation, enrolment, interessement and mobilisation of allies which have been applied to the data to tell the story of the KE actor‐network. This is a cross‐disciplinary approach using a theoretical framework from sociology and applying it to a management/organizational context.

Findings

This framework brings fresh ways of looking at the importance of KE networks within universities. Although limited to one interview, the methodology allows for an in‐depth reading of the data and shows how resilient and flexible this actor‐network is to withstand and respond appropriately to shifts in policy and subsequent provisions for small‐ and medium‐sized enterprise business support.

Originality/value

Building from one case, the paper concludes that this account adds to an historical understanding of how universities become involved with KE activities. The inclusion of non‐human actors allows for a deeper understanding of the actor‐network and shows the importance of actors such as White Papers, pots of funding and physical buildings to the role of KE within higher education.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 16 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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Article
Publication date: 8 January 2018

Karen A. Murdock and Claus J. Varnes

The purpose of this paper is to show that the entrepreneurial project ongoingly is transformed. Empirically, three defining junctions demonstrate the malleability of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show that the entrepreneurial project ongoingly is transformed. Empirically, three defining junctions demonstrate the malleability of the entrepreneurial project in perpetual action, expanding beyond effectuation theory on what constitutes given means, affordable loss, and other key concepts from this theoretical perspective. Drawing upon actor-network theory (ANT), this study demonstrates how different framing and support devices implicate different human and non-human actors in changing interpositions within the entrepreneurial process.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a longitudinal case study design. The case provides an overview of a new business’s emergence based on three identified translations, each representing critical junctures in the business’s development. An ethnographic approach is selected, which combines observations with qualitative interviews. This design allows the authors to focus on how the project emerges and is continuously supported by allies but is sometimes not supported by various human and non-human actors.

Findings

This study demonstrates that the entrepreneurial project undertaken by the entrepreneurial network changes as new humans or non-humans become part of it. Including a resource in the network means simultaneously changing the network. This interactionism shows that what sparks interest or attracts resources to a business idea is not simply an influx of additional resources but is simultaneously a dynamic definition of the entrepreneurial endeavour.

Originality/value

This paper examines how ideas are transformed into business ventures by using the ANT to expand understanding from effectuation theory. This shows that means, for instance, are not given but are co-created by the process of translation. In addition, which losses are affordable can be determined by the process within which the entrepreneur frames the project and manages to associate allies within and into the network.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 21 November 2016

Ingvild Kvale Sørenssen

The purpose of this paper is to show how actor-network theory (ANT) can be useful in exploring tweens consumption of the Disney franchises of High School Musical (HSM) and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show how actor-network theory (ANT) can be useful in exploring tweens consumption of the Disney franchises of High School Musical (HSM) and Hannah Montana (HM). Through the lens of the ANT and the concept of situated consumption, the aim of the paper is to elucidate how both tween girls and the Disney merchandise and media content are mutually enacted through practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on material from in-depth semi-structured interviews with nine girls, seven who were followed during a two-year period in an after-school program at two different schools in a midsize town in Norway and who were visited twice in their home. Two of the girls were recruited from a Disney HSM fan site online. The interviews explored the use of HM and HSM as part of their everyday practices.

Findings

A main finding was how tween girls and their relation to the Disney HSM and HM came to be and mean different things in different settings. Media texts and tied in merchandise functioned as social tools and sign vehicles to manage part of belonging to a peer group and also to distinguish themselves from others. Also, focus is on the social norms surrounding how one can display and not one’s devotion to Disney tween franchises in a socially accept form.

Originality/value

The paper draws on ANT to expand on studies of consumption building on Bajde’s (2013) proposal to include ANT within consumer studies. By drawing on the ANT with a socio-material perspective, this study contributes to gain insight into how popular cultural items take part in the co-construction and performance of both consumers and commodities attempting to move beyond an ontological divide between human and non-human entities. Thus, this paper explores how Disney media texts and merchandise and the girls were enacted in different assemblages.

Details

Young Consumers, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-3616

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Anthony Hussenot

To understand how collaborative work practices emerge and evolve throughout activities, the purpose of this paper is to comprehend the making of compromises from a process…

Abstract

Purpose

To understand how collaborative work practices emerge and evolve throughout activities, the purpose of this paper is to comprehend the making of compromises from a process view. Compromises are here understood as constantly evolving throughout activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The author relies on the Actor-Network Theory to define two dynamics participating in the making of compromises: the translation and the association. These two dynamics are then illustrated with a case study about the development of a Human Resource Management device that took place in a bank in Luxembourg. From this case, the author focuses on the emergence of various compromises about the project’s purpose.

Findings

Based on the insights brought by the theoretical framework and case studies, compromise is understood as a temporary result of the translations and associations between humans and non-humans. Compromise is also anything that is shared by actors (meaning, categories, objectives, etc). that enables them to make their collective activity possible. This process view of compromises makes three contributions: it fully recognizes that compromise is not stable but situated in practices, it highlights the mediating role of compromises and it insists on the interrelation between compromises throughout the activity.

Originality/value

The matter of compromise has mainly been studied from a moral standpoint as a stable agreement, whatever the context. This article also provides an alternative approach to understanding compromise as situated in practices.

Details

International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2015

João Oliveira and Martin Quinn

The purpose of this paper is to address the extant and arguably excessive focus on routines in management accounting research and a relative neglect of rules. It seeks to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the extant and arguably excessive focus on routines in management accounting research and a relative neglect of rules. It seeks to advance our understanding of how rules and routines may interact in the technology-enabled context of management accounting and control of contemporary organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on, and develop, insights from extant literature and from two case studies to explore how rules and routines may interact.

Findings

The paper proposes a framework on the interactions of rules and routines across multiple dimensions. The authors adopt a wide notion of rules to include formal rules, rules as internal cognitive structures of human actors and rules technologically embedded in non-human actors. The authors argue that rules underlie and may precede routines, distinguish between repeated practices and routines and explore the role of technology in today’s management accounting practices.

Research limitations/implications

This research shows how the process of routinization and, ultimately, institutionalization of practices involves multiple dimensions of rules, as well as both human and non-human actors. With this understanding, researchers and practitioners will be better equipped to, respectively, understand nuances of management accounting change and actually achieve change in practice.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the importance of rules in the routinization and institutionalization of management accounting practices and proposes a framework which explores the interactions of rules and routines across three realms: material, action and psychological. Including a material realm, related with technologically embedded rules, in the proposed framework contributes to institutional theory by acknowledging today’s increasing role of technology in organizational life.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

Keywords

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