Actor-Network Theory's contribution to the accounting literature: a critical appraisal

O'Connell, B.O., Ciccotosto, S., and De Lange, P. (2011) Actor-Network Theory's contribution to the accounting literature: a critical appraisal. In: Proceeding of Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference. 07.5. pp. 1-37. From: Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference, 10-12 July 2011, Clearwater Beach, FL, USA.

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Actor-Network Theory (ANT) (Latour, 1987; Callon, 1986 and Law, 1986) has been borrowed by a number of researchers to guide their inquiry (see, Robson, 1991; Chua, 1995; Lowe, 2004). The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical appraisal of the use of ANT in the accounting literature. Through a comprehensive literature review, we examine those influential articles that use ANT in an accounting context. In doing so, we critically appraise these articles with the aim of providing some clarity in guiding the endeavours of future researchers' who may want to use ANT as their theoretical foundation.

Our investigation revealed a range of limitations in the accounting research application of ANT from which we can deduce lessons for future research. Firstly, there has been a tendency for some studies to overemphasise the human/social element and to downplay the role of nonhuman actors in the network. Secondly, there has also been a lack of detail provided in some studies about how actors were selected for the study or the basis on which they were omitted from it.

The findings of this study demonstrate the influence of ANT within the accounting literature together with the limitations of studies to date. Specifically, it shows how ANT can serve a theoretical grounding for those who seek to explain the role accounting and the process of change in a broader social context and how to apply this theory to future studies.

Item ID: 19987
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
Keywords: Actor-Network Theory, Latour, actors, accounting literature
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Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2012 05:36
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