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Book part

Carla Ramos and David Ford

Companies inevitably interact and entrench in complex organic systems of business relationships with other. These business networks are not objectively defined, instead…

Abstract

Companies inevitably interact and entrench in complex organic systems of business relationships with other. These business networks are not objectively defined, instead they are shaped by the subjective perception of actors. This inherent subjectivity is associated with the notion of network pictures, that is, a research tool that researchers or managers can use to grasp practitioner theories. In this chapter, we discuss how the importance of identifying these theories results mainly from underlying principles of sense-making theory, as well as from the idea around performativity. Drawing on these theoretical groundings, this chapter has two objectives: to explore how practitioners actually perceive their business surroundings and to assess the extent of overlapping between (IMP Group) academic theories and practitioner theories. To achieve these objectives, the researchers use a dimensional network pictures model previously developed in the literature to analyze the network pictures of 49 top-level managers across 17 companies from two very distinct contexts or networks: a product-based network and a project-based network. Among other practices, findings illustrate how practitioners tend to simplify what is going on in their complex surroundings, to personalize their relationships with those surroundings, and to think in a stereotyped way. Moreover, the juxtaposition between the captured practitioner theories and academic (IMP Group) theories show that these are not always overlapping, and are in some cases quite the opposite. This research contributes to the ongoing discussion of the importance of grasping actors’ views of the world, arguing that sense-making theory and the notion of performativity are the two main conceptual drivers justifying the urgency in making those views more visible. This research also adds to the research on the impact and suitability of IMP Group theories on managerial thinking and practice. Finally, this research reinforces the current call for further practice-based research in business network contexts.

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Deep Knowledge of B2B Relationships Within and Across Borders
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-858-7

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Article

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

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Article

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…

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.

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

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Article

Jane Baxter and Wai Fong Chua

The purpose of this paper is to respond to Modell’s arguments regarding the relative usefulness of critical realist philosophy in relation to actor-network theory.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to respond to Modell’s arguments regarding the relative usefulness of critical realist philosophy in relation to actor-network theory.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors outline the challenges in applying critical realism to critical accounting. The authors then consider Modell’s criticisms of actor-network theory, providing a counterargument highlighting the methodological choices distinguishing actor-network theory from critical realism.

Findings

The authors argue that critical realism, whilst providing an interesting addition to the critical accounting research project, confronts challenges disentangling intransitive and transitive forms of knowledge. Actor-network theory is presented as a way of examining accounting practices as local associations, providing practical opportunities to study (the assembly of) “the social”.

Research limitations/implications

Methodological diversity is to be explored, acknowledging the ontological politics of our choices.

Originality/value

This paper is an original commentary contributing to critical accounting research.

Details

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

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Abstract

Details

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

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Book part

Morten H. Abrahamsen

The study here examines how business actors adapt to changes in networks by analyzing their perceptions or their network pictures. The study is exploratory or iterative in…

Abstract

The study here examines how business actors adapt to changes in networks by analyzing their perceptions or their network pictures. The study is exploratory or iterative in the sense that revisions occur to the research question, method, theory, and context as an integral part of the research process.

Changes within networks receive less research attention, although considerable research exists on explaining business network structures in different research traditions. This study analyzes changes in networks in terms of the industrial network approach. This approach sees networks as connected relationships between actors, where interdependent companies interact based on their sensemaking of their relevant network environment. The study develops a concept of network change as well as an operationalization for comparing perceptions of change, where the study introduces a template model of dottograms to systematically analyze differences in perceptions. The study then applies the model to analyze findings from a case study of Norwegian/Japanese seafood distribution, and the chapter provides a rich description of a complex system facing considerable pressure to change. In-depth personal interviews and cognitive mapping techniques are the main research tools applied, in addition to tracer studies and personal observation.

The dottogram method represents a valuable contribution to case study research as it enables systematic within-case and across-case analyses. A further theoretical contribution of the study is the suggestion that network change is about actors seeking to change their network position to gain access to resources. Thereby, the study also implies a close relationship between the concepts network position and the network change that has not been discussed within the network approach in great detail.

Another major contribution of the study is the analysis of the role that network pictures play in actors' efforts to change their network position. The study develops seven propositions in an attempt to describe the role of network pictures in network change. So far, the relevant literature discusses network pictures mainly as a theoretical concept. Finally, the chapter concludes with important implications for management practice.

Details

Interfirm Networks: Theory, Strategy, and Behavior
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-024-7

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Article

Vassili Joannidès and Nicolas Berland

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the sociology‐of‐science type of accounting literature, addressing how accounting knowledge is established, advanced and extended.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the sociology‐of‐science type of accounting literature, addressing how accounting knowledge is established, advanced and extended.

Design/methodology/approach

The research question is answered through the example of research into linkages between accounting and religion. Adopting an actornetwork theory (ANT) approach, the paper follows the actors involved in the construction of accounting as an academic discipline through the controversies in which they engage to develop knowledge.

Findings

The paper reveals that accounting knowledge is established, advanced and developed through the ongoing mobilisation of nonhumans (journals) who can enrol other humans and nonhumans. It shows that knowledge advancement, establishment and development is more contingent on network breadth than on research paradigms, which appear as side‐effects of positioning vis‐à‐vis a community.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is twofold. First, ANT is applied to accounting knowledge, whereas the accounting literature applies it to the spread of management accounting ideas, methods and practices. Second, an original methodology for data collection is developed by inviting authors from the network to give a reflexive account of their writings at the time they joined the network. Well diffused in sociology and philosophy, such an approach is, albeit, original in accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article

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

Ian Somerville

This article offers an introduction to a theoretical approach which has recently begun to be used by organisational theorists to explain the distribution and exercise of…

Abstract

This article offers an introduction to a theoretical approach which has recently begun to be used by organisational theorists to explain the distribution and exercise of power between organisations and entities within particular spheres, or “networks”. This approach, which has been labelled “actornetworktheory, argues that focusing on questions of “identity”, particularly questions of self‐identity, depends upon accepting and reproducing a “modern” set of presuppositions. These modern presuppositions are concerned primarily with the creation of stable boundaries and hierarchies, between subject and object, and between self and other. Actornetwork theory proposes that the notion of “agency” offers an alternative “amodern” perspective from which to explore how entities, or actors, influence other actors through the process of translation. Concludes that actornetwork theory, as a meta‐theoretical position and as a methodological approach offers an alternative to existing public relations theory which cannot easily be ignored.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article

Noortje Marres

This article explores the ways in which actornetwork theory (ANT) invites an alternative account of democratic process, namely in terms of issue‐formation, which is…

Abstract

This article explores the ways in which actornetwork theory (ANT) invites an alternative account of democratic process, namely in terms of issue‐formation, which is particularly well suited to the study of democratic practices facilitated by information and communication technologies (ICT). Engaging with arguments that have been made in political theory in favor of the re‐invigoration of institutional and extra‐institutional forms of democratic debate, this article argues that a re‐valuation of issue‐politics is more than timely. In this respect, actornetwork theory is a particularly fruitful approach, since it provides the conceptual and methodological equipment to account for democracy in terms of processes of issue formation. Such an account of democracy, it is argued, is particularly appropriate to the study of ICT‐based democratic processes, since in the context of ICT distributed networks that configure around particular issues can be seen to emerge as the carriers of democratic process. Moreover, ANT provides the conceptual and methodological tools for the development of a research practice of tracing public controversies as they are enacted in such networks on the Web. In tracing a particular controversy on the Web, around the Development Gateway, a portal for development information set up by the World Bank, one begins to articulate an alternative understanding of the significance of ICT for institutional as well as extra‐institutional forms of democracy. A number of requirements on effective democratic action, as facilitated by ICT, are derived from the case study, which move beyond the requirement of social networking, i.e. the building of partnerships, and informational networking, i.e. the exchange of knowledge and opinion. Issue‐networking here comes to the fore as indispensable to democratic politics.

Details

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

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