Virksom: En diskussion af og eksperimentering med aktørnetværksteori som udgangspunkt for en virksomhedsanalyse

Kasper Brødsgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of the thesis is to discuss and test the use of actor-network theory as a basis for business analysis. Actor-network theory is, in this context, primarily based on the works of Bruno Latour, John Law and Michel Callon. The analysis and discussion presented in the thesis take their point of departure in empirical observations and working experiments made during a year working as a research assistant in the consultancy firm Impact A/S (2004-2005). The thesis falls in two main parts. Firstly, I present how actor-network theory can be used for analytical purposes in general, and secondly I discuss and test this type of analysis in relation to the specific business case of Impact. In the introduction I present what I call the insufficiency of the prevalent ideas of consultancy work and I argue that the method of actor-network theory can generate a more unpredictable, remarkable and yet still relevant analysis. I then explicate the central distinctions of the theory, and explain their consequences for doing analysis. The empirical analysis of Impact is further divided into two. In the first part I develop an array of categories necessary for the description of my observations. This development is based in an analytical experiment with the categories of space (area a/area b), gender (male/female) and professions (designer/consultant), which leads to the recognition that they are all inadequate for the description of Impact. I therefore turn to a construction of an analytical distinction between negotiating activity, collecting activity and constructing activity. In the second part I discuss the productivity of Impact based on the categories developed in the former analysis. On the basis of the distinction between the three kinds of activity I describe the production of Impact as consisting of two streams, one of interests and one of texts. Firstly, I perform what I call a translation analysis of the transformation of interests. Secondly, I perform what I call a modality analysis of the transformation of text. I argue that put together these two transformations constitute the consultancy performance of Impact. The overall conclusion is that actor-network theory is a very suitable approach to business analysis, since it makes the analyst able to carry out highly context-sensitive descriptions. Descriptions which will, most likely, challenge the common conceptions of the specific business case. However, the discussions in the thesis also lead to the conclusion that actor-network theory is not very likely to take over from traditional approaches to business analysis since the theory is not able to satisfy the persisting need for necessity in management.

EducationsMSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2005
Number of pages82