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Book Review: Bruno Latour: Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory

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Organization Studies
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DOI: 10.1177/0170840606071164
2006 27: 1553Organization Studies
Barbara Czarniawska
Actor-Network Theory
Book Review: Bruno Latour: Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to
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Book Reviews:
New Books in Organization Theory
Bruno Latour: Reassembling the Social: An Introduction
to Actor-Network Theory
2005, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 301 pages, hbk
DOI: 10.1177/0170840606071164
There is no more a method for learning
than there is a method for finding treasures...
(Giles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 1968/1997: 165)
Although there is no method for finding treasures, treasure hunters are forever
looking for maps or guides — and this is what Bruno Latour’s book is. What
constitutes a treasure is highly personal, which is a reason why there can be no
method for it. But a map or a guide confirms that the treasure exists, and moti-
vates the searcher to begin the journey.
The treasure Latour has in mind is the possibility — or rather many
possibilities — of realizing the traditional goal of social sciences: to understand,
describe, and explain the social by nontraditional means. In order to do this,
students of the social need to abandon the recent idea that ‘social’ is a kind of
essential property that can be discovered and measured, and return to the ety-
mology of the word, which meant something connected or assembled. The
question for social sciences is not, therefore, ‘How social is this?’, but how
things, people, and ideas become connected and assembled in larger units.
Actor-network theory (ANT) is a guide to the process of answering this ques-
tion. It is not a theory of the social, but a theory of how to study the social, set
apart by this specific definition of its object.
Having explained his intentions in the Introduction, Latour demonstrates
in Part I how to deploy controversies about the social world. What is taken for
granted is not easy to study; controversies mean that the ground of the obvious
has been moved, at least in part. Each controversy is a source of uncertainty to
be explored, and there are five such sources, discussed in five chapters.
The first source of uncertainty is the status of groups: do they exist, or are
they being constantly formed and re-formed? ANT takes the latter option, and
is able, therefore, to show that ‘the first feature of the social world is this con-
stant tracing of boundaries by people over some other people’ (p. 28). The
scholars who chose the first option are themselves engaging in such tracing:
Organization
Studies
27(10): 1553–1557
ISSN 0170–8406
Copyright © 2006
SAGE Publications
(London,
Thousand Oaks,
CA & New Delhi)
Barbara Czarniawska
Göteborg University,
Sweden
www.egosnet.org/os
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each ‘organization study’ adds stability to a unit called ‘organization’, which
might otherwise be on the verge of dissolving or regrouping. No wonder that in
times of constant mergers and acquisitions, young researchers may feel lost
when ‘the organization’ they set out to study no longer exists when they reach
it. No such surprises to the ANTs: they simply follow an actor and note in their
field notebook the name used for the location they arrive at. It is not groups that
need to be studied, but the work of group-making and unmaking.
The second source of uncertainty concerns agency: who or what is acting
when an action can be observed? The notion of actor-network strongly suggests
that that which presents itself to an observer as an ‘actor’ may, in fact, be a
whole network. One of the traces leading in this direction is the inconsistency
of accounts given by those who seem to be actors to the researchers. Instead,
in order to explore this source of uncertainty, researchers try to eliminate it by
picking from actors’ accounts only that which can be easily incorporated into a
theory. Thus ironing out the inconsistency from the accounts, the researchers
erase indications of multiplicity of agencies, which ought to interest them most.
If there is any uncertainty as to how agency should be described, it follows
that even objects can be seen as possessing agency — the third source of uncer-
tainty to deploy. It is at this point that the definition of ‘social’ is significantly
extended: from ‘humans only’ to ‘all actants that can be associated’. This exten-
sion is nothing new to fiction or to everyday life — yesterday’s faithful com-
panions such as dogs and horses have been replaced by computers and iPods —
and the need for associations to extend beyond humans has always been obvi-
ous. Afraid perhaps of losing their domain, social scientists are fastidious in
differentiating between humans, who are their concern; and non-humans,
who belong to other disciplines. In organization studies, this self-definition is
often revealed in cooperative projects run by sociologists and economists.
Sociologists tend to lose interest when ‘money’ comes into the picture, expect-
ing economists, living in the space between social and natural sciences, to pick
it up for inspection. And yet what would money do without bonding itself to
human beings?
The purpose here is not, however, to anthropomorphize insentient beings,
although such an operation is performed daily by all competent speakers. It is
to point out the special role that objects play in associations: they stabilize. This
is why contracts are written, obituaries carved in stone, and technical norms
built into the instruments to make the users behave in a prescribed way. We do
not live in a society, but in a collective — composed of humans and non-
humans. It is also here that Latour begins to answer the puzzling critique often
directed toward ANT: that it ignores ‘power relations’. Far from ignoring power
or using it as an explanation, ANT attempts to explain it. ‘People are rich
because they possess capital’ is a tautology. ‘How did they create the bond?’ is
an ANT question.
The fourth source of uncertainty is the status of facts: how to tell the differ-
ence between a ‘matter of fact’ and a ‘matter of concern’? The difference is in
the making, and it is this making that ANT wants to study. Concern can turn sup-
positions into facts and politics can turn facts into concerns — or delegate them
into oblivion. The discussion of this source of uncertainty gives Latour the
1554 Organization Studies 27(10)
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opportunity to explain why ANT abandoned the label of ‘social constructivism’.
ANT’s interpretation read ‘social’ as ‘not individual’(as, for example, in Piagetian
constructivism), and ‘construction’as ‘not creation’. The common reading is, how-
ever, ‘human contrivance’ (as opposed to divine or natural creation) — in other
words, negative, or at least weak. The label can be abandoned, but not the task.
Studying how matters become concerns or facts is an obvious task for sociology
of science, but equally obvious for management studies. Isn’t this exactly what
both accounting and strategic management set out to accomplish?
The fifth source of uncertainty will be easily recognized: how to write
research accounts? This chapter is both an encouragement to literary inventive-
ness and a warning against glibness and overconfidence. The desirable opposite
of rigour is not sloppiness, but vivacity and flexibility. ‘Textual accounts are the
social scientist’s laboratory’ (p. 127), and, consequently, ‘A good text is never
an unmediated portrait of what it describes’ (p. 136). One point worth empha-
sizing is Latour’s claim that ‘the mere description’ is always the most difficult
task in a research report, from which many writers flee, to hide behind com-
forting if empty abstractions.
The first part ends with a dialogue with a student, confused by the (extolled!)
difficulty of doing ANT studies of organizations (a collection of texts by those
who tried anyway has been assembled by Czarniawska and Hernes, 2005). The
dialogue is certainly a composite, but convincing exactly because of that: it rep-
resents many a doubt voiced by beginning researchers. Here again Latour
(1999) mocks the name of his approach while defending it.
The fictitious Professor of the dialogue may be poking fun at the Student
(who is also irreverent, creating a symmetrical discourse), but Professor Latour
takes to heart the difficulties reported by the student. So Part II begins with an
admission that it is not easy to trace the social, and gives advice on how to study
associations in three moves. To be able to perform these moves, a new cartog-
raphy is needed. The moves of the new scientists of a social are not to be
between local and global or between micro and macro, because such places do
not exist; they will be moving across a flatland.
The first move consists of localizing the global — of realizing that there is no
‘global’, but only a chain of connected localities. ‘No place can be said to be
bigger than any other place, but some can be said to benefit from far safer con-
nections with many more places than others’ (p. 176).
But the local never occurs in one place only, so the second move must be a
redistribution of the local. The loving conversation that you overheard at a
nearby café has been fed by dozens of Hollywood films and hundreds of pop
songs that have been produced — and consumed — in distant localities and dis-
tant times. The lovers who look into each other’s eyes see in them reflections of
Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo, and Julia Roberts; Errol Flynn, Rudolf Valentino, and
Jeremy Irons. And if intimate interactions are so densely populated, how over-
crowded must be the public ones, such as take place in organizations!
The example I have used made obvious the role of film technology in a redis-
tribution of the local. Less obvious is the role of the interior decoration of the
café, which, unlike a huge table in a beerhouse, allows the lovers to engage in an
intimate conversation. Less obvious as well is the fact that a love scene between
Book Reviews 1555
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Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall was also once a local interaction. It is
those less obvious aspects of localizing and globalizing that Latour wants the
organization students to make known in the first two moves. Neither ‘global
contexts’ nor ‘face-to-face interactions’ can be taken for granted; they are not
what they seem to be.
When both moves are performed simultaneously, the third move becomes
obvious, as that which necessarily comes into focus is the character of connec-
tions. If what seems to be global consists of many connected times and places,
and what seems to be local is a product of many connected times and places,
how are these sites connected? And what makes such connections stable? After
all, the world of organizations is anything but flat — but how are the hierarchies
made? Of what are they made? The metaphor of the flatland is the way to dif-
ferentiate the standpoint of the observer from that of an actor. An ANT observer
is a sceptic who needs to be shown how the mountains and valleys have been
constructed. Here, the role of standardization, formalization, and classification
of any kind becomes immediately obvious.
In the concluding chapter, Latour arrives at the point announced throughout
the book by a variety of allusions: the need for a political stance, which also dif-
fers from that of critical social sciences as we know them. His main critique of
critical theories is their neglect of the phenomena that ANT wants to explore
and explain. They see power, domination, and exploitation as explanatory con-
cepts rather than phenomena in need of explanation. In his suggestion for a new
kind of political epistemology, Latour wants to go beyond the eternal dilemma
of choosing between ‘the dream of disinterestedness and the opposite dream of
engagement and relevance’ (p. 250). This new move would be, for any member
of social sciences, to practise collecting, as a way toward the progressive com-
position of one common world. He suggests a replacement of the traditional
political question ‘How many are we?’ with the question ‘Can we live together?’
Commonsensical as it may sound, it is a truly revolutionary question, not least
in organization theory, where the distinctions between leaders and followers, men
and women, employers and employees, producers and consumers — followed
by counting the forces — was a matter of routine for any political faction. The
idea of building a collective will allow objects to join in, still preserving the
heterogeneity. After all, ‘to study is always to do politics in the sense that it
collects or composes what the common world is made of (p. 256).
This is a book for three groups of readers. Scholars familiar with ANT will
find in it plenty of new anecdotes and interesting pieces of reasoning to refresh
their interest. Scholars unfamiliar with ANT will find in it a systematic presen-
tation of this way of framing the social and specific lists of steps to undertake,
were they to espouse it. And, last but not least, scholars hostile to ANT will get
a better idea of what they are hostile toward, as this is sometimes unclear.
The formal trait of setting some parts of the text of a more digressive char-
acter in text boxes will facilitate the lecture for beginners, who may omit them
at a first reading, and connoisseurs will be delighted to immerse themselves in
these boxes. The text is also exemplary in its use of references and footnotes.
No references in parentheses litter the text. Footnotes are informative, and ref-
erencing in the text is always justified: the reader knows exactly why a given
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source or an author has been mentioned. Perhaps this is a long-awaited sign that
Oxford University Press is ready to return to the Oxford Referencing System?
No doubt, however, that Latour’s book can also serve, not so much as a model
to copy, but certainly as a source of inspiration for how to write a social science
text: vividly, engagingly, eloquently.
The book is addressed to all social scientists, but organization theorists
probably have a special duty to read it, as we live at present in a world that
is organized through and through. Although organizing may be only one way
of reassembling, it may be the most common way nowadays. And, if I may
paraphrase Latour, ‘organizations have never explained anything; organizations
have to be explained’. There is much to be done, and this book may be of man-
ifold use.
Book Reviews 1557
References
Czarniawska, Barbara, and Tor Hernes
2005 Actor-Network Theory and
organizing. Malmö/Copenhagen:
Liber & Copenhagen Business
School Press.
Deleuze, Giles
1968/1997 Difference and repetition.
London: The Athlone Press.
Latour, Bruno
1999 ‘On recalling ANT’ in Actor Network
Theory and after. John Law and John
Hassard (eds), 15–20. Oxford:
Blackwell.
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... and fabricated by facts and routines generated by the matter of the object or platform, or hour manufactured by the individuals in a collective process (Czarniawska, 2006;Latour, 2012). "There is need to understand the social plot not only as an effect of human actions, but also through the intervention of other nonhuman agents" (Selgas, 2008, p.9). ...
... Therefore, it does not exist in the conception of actor theory outside the network, because the elements are agents acting even nonhuman, interacting with the environment or with humans inspiring and generating new behaviors and associations (Canniford and Bajde, 2016). Thus, to a more in-depth understanding of the existing relationships between these actors (human and nonhuman) it becomes necessary to describe the elements of agency, mediation and translation proposed by ANT (Law, 2004;Czarniawska, 2006;Latour, 2012). ...
... Thus, it is verified the field can be studied and deepened as a set of practices, which go through a tangle or hybrid movement integrated and interlaced by a set of actions and functions in movement (Bajde et al., 2018). In this line of reasoning, the collective and ensemble consists of human and nonhuman actors, which are represented by individuals (consumers and providers) and digital platforms (applications and devices), which constantly mold and act in a flow in motion of a single network (Czarniawska, 2006;Latour, 2012). This way, mediation refers to the idea of medium, since it is a mid-point in which the action of locating and globalizing concentrates and disperses the interactions, giving symmetry to humans and nonhumans. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Keywords: Digital Platforms; Sharing Economy; Actor-Network-Theory. INTRODUCTION One of the gaps in the studies on marketing and information systems is to understand how assemblage the relationships happen between consumers, service providers, and digital platforms. Specifically, in sharing economy field an issue that still needs explanation is associated with how these relationships occur between the various and different actors involved in this movement. Given the inherent complexity of this context, Actor-Network Theory (ANT) presents with theory and/or research methodology adequate to better understand this assemblage relationship. RESEARCH QUESTION AND MAIN GOAL Therefore, it is necessary to understand how this process and relationship building and structured by the parliament of things, a hybrid of humans and nonhumans, who together build facts, values, and actions. On this perspective disclosed the following question: How do happen assemblage of relationships between consumers and providers (humans) when mediated by digital platforms (nonhumans) in sharing economy? To answers this question this study aims to analyze how an assemblage of relationships of exchanges happens between consumers and service providers when mediated by digital platforms in SE. THEORETICAL REVIEW In order to better understand these sets of relationships between actor-network, the role of digital platforms in connecting, inducing, engaging, valuing, and mediating these actions has been explored (Hamari, Sjöklinta, and Ukkonen, 2016, Breidbach and Brodie, 2017; Sutherland and Jarrahi, 2018). For this based on a process of following the actors proposed by Latour (2012), and mediation and translation processes (elements originating from ANT) will be the main theoretical support for understanding the sharing economy phenomenon. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: The research field was conducted from November 2018 to March 2019 through participant and non-participant observation, unstructured interviews, and follow-ups of online communities. It was chosen a case study of Brazilian digital platform - “Rental Goalkeepers”, to understand the agency of nonhumans in the assemblage of the relationships of exchanges between consumers and service providers, from the perspective of actor-network theory. The methodological approach supports the description of the materiality existing in the practices and relations between these actors composed by this collective. RESULTS CASE The case studied allowed us to identify a decentralized action and a hybrid relationship between human and non-human actors (Latour, 2012; Sutherland and Jarrahi, 2018) by analyzing observations, interviews, and mapping of online communities. This relationship is assembled collectively with the support of digital resources, online and offline communications and uniforms, providing a unique experience with entertainment, sports practice, friendship relationships, and extra income. This assembly only takes place in ongoing practices, being constantly produced and negotiated by both actors. CONTRIBUTIONS AND IMPACT: The main contribution shows evidence and synergy between subjects and objects in this assemblage of relationships. This relationship is assembled collectively supported by digital resources, online and offline communications providing a unique experience and friendly relations between consumers and service providers. This actor-network (Latour, 2012) movement promotes and disseminates a new digital culture whose main goal is the valorization of service assemblage through the development of solutions, learning, and collective resources that can support the strategy of this kind of business. CONCLUDING REMARKS: The results indicate that a mediation assemblage process was noted which features, interfaces, design resources, communication, and data functionalities, and algorithms proposed and disseminated by this digital platform. This mediation happens through a hybrid flow with the consumption and production behaviors of the businesses, which are inserted in the SE context. Therefore, the ANT as a theoretical contribution presents the existence of a symmetrical and hybrid process between the human and nonhuman actors that is assembled and mediated by their relations.
... Without such inscription, or "material durability", decision-making networks are fragile, unstable and solely depend on capabilities and stubborn of the key actor. As Czarniawska (2006Czarniawska ( , p. 1554 notes: "It is to point out the special role that objects play in associations: they stabilize. This is why contracts are written, obituaries carved in stone, and technical norms built into the instruments to make the users behave in a prescribed way". ...
... Instead, ANT helps to categorise the various activities that occur in a observed setting and places them into relation with each other. Czarniawska (2006Czarniawska ( , p. 1553) summarises this point well by stating "[Actor-network theory is] not a theory of the social, but a theory of how to study the social". Once the networks are deconstructed and reassembled, a further theory is needed to explain why those relations came into being and how these relations are made durable. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper we illustrate the utility of actor-network theory (ANT) as a methodological approach to understand the effect of the eclectic characteristics of design firms on their strategy development processes. The need for creativity, expertise knowledge and the constant need to innovate suggest that the mainstream strategy or decision-making theories provide unsatisfying insights into how strategy of the design firm emerges. These culture laden organisations often operate with limited formality, therefore require attention to the social side of decision-making. To address this rich complex social-fabric of decision-making, we suggest to study strategy development as the result of the formation of actor-networks. By illustration of data collected from 13 interviews with design firms in mainly Europe and a longitudinal study of a global digital design firm, we illustrate how an ANT- based approach allows theorists to analyse the rich cultural complexity of design firms’ decision-making in a focused and coherent manner.
... Actor-network theory is thus useful as a lens for understanding that actors in many forms, texts, and collective influences need to be examined from a wider and more open-minded perspective on SL. It provides a needed rebuttal to the notion that the "social" regarding SL represents a reified and "essential property that can be discovered and measured" (Czarniawska, 2006(Czarniawska, , p. 1553. However, ANT's almost complete abstraction, non-recognition of differences in groups or societies, lack of real-world models, diminution of human agency, and absence of operationalizing guidance suggest that it is best viewed as a mindset for studying SL rather than as a workable strategy for describing the "sociology of associations" related to the SL phenomenon. ...
... El surgimiento de los eo, desde un punto de vista epistemológico, obedece a la identificación de un objeto de estudio, unas metodologías y unos marcos teóricos que intentan responder, desde otro ángulo, el problema de la administración y la organización que algunos académicos denominan como tóxica (Collignon & Vers, 2013), que terminan por una reificación del ser humano gracias a los procesos de organización (Lane, Koka, & Pathak, 2006), desligándolo así de su realidad social (Czarniawska, 2006). Aceptamos que hay una convención, más no un acuerdo libre de polémicas, sobre la importancia del Movimiento de la Contingencia para reconocer a la organización como objeto de interés y análisis de las nuevas condiciones del trabajo moderno. ...
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En el editorial de la primera edición especial sobre los es­tudios organizacionales (EO) —el número 78, volumen 30—, abordamos la crítica resaltando su dimensión laboriosa e íntegra para analizar los fenómenos organiza­cionales (Gonzales-Miranda & Rojas Rojas, 2020). Para esta segunda edición, queremos proponer una reflexión sobre otro aspecto relevante para los EO y para todas las otras perspectivas que enriquecen el pensamiento y la investiga­ción en administración: las ideas sobre las que estudiamos y proyectamos la condición humana. Tal vez las ideas des­de las cuales vemos y pensamos la organización requieran considerar los límites con los que muchas veces conceptua­lizamos la erosión de la humanidad y la “filosofía” que ali­menta muchas de las tesis que soportan la literatura de la organización y la administración contemporánea.
... Actor-network theory (ANT) allows us to analyze cases in which the separation between humans and non-humans is unclear and actors have various forms (Callon, 1999). The fundamental question for actor-network studies is not how the social is formed, but how things and people connect (Latour, 2005;Czarniawska, 2006). For ANT, organizations are the assemblage of a set of technical and social elements, which should be analyzed in the same terms (Hassard, Law, & Lee, 1999). ...
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This paper aims to analyze the aesthetic and material/technical controversies surrounding the production of parade floats from a samba school. Starting from actor-network theory and controversy analysis, we show how actors negotiate interests that exist in carnival production project. Our findings demonstrate that the disagreements over material and aesthetic dimensions are temporarily solved by gambiarra, which is the unconventional use of technical knowledge for generating a creative solution in resource and time constraints contexts. We also argue that controversy analysis is an interesting tool to study organizational aesthetics in project management: it allows for understanding the potential conflictual relationship between material/technical and aesthetic dimensions. We conclude by stating that gambiarra can have both positive and negative consequences of generating creative solutions for controversies.
... Therefore, this study proposed to translate and analyze these mediating and flattening relationships in this triad of consumers -digital platforms -service providers through the ANT translation process (CALLON, 1984). This triad and dynamics designate a network, followed and manufactured by facts and routines generated by the matter of the object or platform, or time manufactured by individuals (consumers and service providers) in a unique process (LATOUR, 2005;CZARNIAWSKA, 2006). ...
Thesis
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The aim of this research was to analyze how digital platforms mediate and flatten the relationships between consumers and service providers in the sharing economy (SE) in light of the Actor-network Theory (ANT). From this perspective, qualitative longitudinal research was carried out following the theoretical and methodological premises of ANT. Data analysis was carried out in the light of the methodological translation procedure, through which the actors were mapped, observed, and their information was collected, described and translated. Network actors were empirically represented by two case studies. The research results show a socio-technical relationship in the consumer triad - digital platform - service provider in consumer and service relationships. The study of this relationship points to a mediation process, provided by the agency of digital platforms that transport influences and transfer meanings and senses to consumers and service providers. On the other hand, the flattening of relationships results from the action of digital platforms associated with the motivations of consumers and providers. Specifically, the central argument of the thesis reveals flat relationships of consumption and service due to a collective process of engagement between human motivations and non-human actions. Thus, this thesis proposes the Protechsumer concept, opening an agenda for future studies that problematize the literature about this collective agency that motivates, induces, connects, mediates, and levels the consumption and service relationships in SE. The study also contributes to the advancement of the literature on sharing economy, digital platforms, and consumer behavior, expanding a future agenda on how to analyze these relationships in the light of ANT. In addition to academic debates, the study provides practical implications for the development and operation of the business in the sharing economy.
... Without such material durability, the design process would be fragile, unstable and solely depend on capabilities and sometimes undependable human actors (van den Broek and Rieple 2017). As Czarniawska (2006Czarniawska ( , p. 1554 notes, when: "It is to point out the special role that objects play in associations: they stabilize." ...
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This paper analyses Web 2.0 facilitated collaborative design among undergraduate engineering students. The study used the actor–network theory as a methodological and analytical framework to study the role of Web 2.0 technology in the collaborative design process. Participants were drawn from fourth-year engineering students at a university of technology in Zimbabwe. Data were constituted by using a questionnaire, comprising closed and open-ended questions, semi-structured interview schedules, observation schedules, and non-participant observation of online activities by student designers. The findings of the study show that Web 2.0 technology stirred the collaborative design process by stimulating unpredictable actions, thus actively contributing to shaping the emerging collaborative design network. The study concludes that Web 2.0 technologies should not be viewed as simple tools for communication, as described in some literature but as non-human actors which can mediate the collaborative design process and shape the way it is constitued and carryed out in practice.
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is creating a revolution in business and society at large, as well as challenges for organizations. AI-powered social bots can sense, think and act on social media platforms in ways similar to humans. The challenge is that social bots can perform many harmful actions, such as providing wrong information to people, escalating arguments, perpetrating scams and exploiting the stock market. As such, an understanding of different kinds of social bots and their authors’ intentions is vital from the management perspective. Drawing from the actor-network theory (ANT), this study investigates human and non-human actors’ roles in social media, particularly Twitter. We use text mining and machine learning techniques, and after applying different pre-processing techniques, we applied the bag of words model to a dataset of 30,000 English-language tweets. The present research is among the few studies to use a theory-based focus to look, through experimental research, at the role of social bots and the spread of disinformation in social media. Firms can use our tool for the early detection of harmful social bots before they can spread misinformation on social media about their organizations.
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Englisch Many companies want to organize their work processes as efficient as possible and therefore implement the Lean Management concept. The concept originates from the automotive industry (Toyota), but has now also descended into other sectors, such as government institutions. Politics and society desire flexible and transparent government institutions that organize their public tasks with limited financial resources and manpower. The Lean promise is in line with this desire and that is why managers are putting pressure on the implementation of Lean principles into the organization. Often, Lean implementation processes are managed in a top-down fashion in which Lean is considered a means to an end. However, many implementations fail because of a variety of factors, such as lack of insight into the why, what, and how of the implementation. A relational view sheds a different light on how an implementation process works. Lean is then not seen as a means, measure or end in itself, but as an active actor in a network. This involves a mutual influence between people and Lean. The insight derived from this relational analysis is that people's positions, thinking and actions are subject to changes, and that the implementation outcomes are unpredictable. Based on these insights, recommendations are made on how a Lean implementation process can be managed more successfully. Dutch Veel bedrijven willen hun arbeidsprocessen zo slank mogelijk organiseren en implementeren daarom Lean. Het concept komt uit de autoproductie-industrie (Toyota), maar is inmiddels ook in andere sectoren neergedaald zoals in overheidsorganisaties. De politiek en maatschappij wenst een flexibele en transparante overheidsorganisaties, die haar publieke taken met minder financiële middelen en menskracht organiseert. De Lean-belofte sluit hierop aan en daarom zetten managers druk op de invoering. Managers sturen een Lean-implementatieproces vaak top-down aan en zien Lean als middel. De meeste implementaties mislukken vanwege diverse factoren, zoals het ontbreken van het waarom, waartoe en hoe. Een relationele kijk werpt een ander licht op hoe een implementatieproces in zijn werk gaat. Lean wordt dan niet gezien als middel, maatregel of doel op zich, maar als een actieve speler in een netwerk. Hierin is sprake van wederzijdse beïnvloeding tussen de medewerkers en Lean. Het gevolg is dat posities, denken en doen van mensen verandert en implementatie-uitkomsten onvoorspelbaar zijn. Met deze inzichten worden aanbevelingen gedaan over hoe managers een Lean-implementatieproces succesvoller kunnen aansturen.
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Resumo Este artigo objetivou analisar etnometodologicamente os processos organizativos do turismo como prática na orla marítima de João Pessoa/PB (Brasil). A etnometodologia foi o método utilizado para a pesquisa empírica, com a realização de visitas à orla marítima, com base nas quais ocorreram observações, conversas informais, entrevistas e foram tomadas notas de campo. Os dados foram analisados com base no referencial teórico, assim como nos questionamentos norteadores dos cinco conceitos-chave da etnometodologia garfinkiliana. Como resultados, observou-se que o turismo não ocorre de maneira avulsa e isolada em distintos lugares, mas de forma entrelaçada, carrega uma série de relações, símbolos, valores e regras sociais que são perpassados pelas gerações, fazendo com que um dado espaço possa ser caracterizado e considerado turístico. O turismo passa a ser um elemento central na organização do espaço turístico, ou seja, é ele que justifica e alicerça os processos organizativos realizados por grupos sociais na orla marítima. Conclui-se que, como campo de práticas, a orla marítima se trata de um espaço complexo em virtude de sua importância social, econômica e ambiental, em que múltiplos interesses e usos, pautados pelo turismo, estão presentes cotidianamente e evidenciam a importância desse espaço.
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