Using Actor-Network-Theory as a Means of Exploring the Management of Community Development Networks


  • Úna Quinn Atlantic Technological University, Donegal, Ireland.
  • Paul McCusker Atlantic Technological University, Donegal, Ireland.
  • Padraig Gallagher Atlantic Technological University, Donegal, Ireland.



ANT, community development, community development networks, community development practice, community stakeholders, complex organisations


This paper explores the use of Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) as a means of understanding the management of community development networks. This was undertaken through the application of ANT as a theoretical methodology to the case of ‘Organisation A’, a community development organisation operating in Ireland which has grown rapidly over the past 10 years and is embarking on a strategic review intended to examine all aspects of the organisation. The data collection methodology is qualitative and involved senior managers participating in semi-structured interviews. An analysis framework based on ANT was developed with the aim of understanding and articulating the management of this organisation as a complex network. The application of ANT is used to map the state of affairs of a network through the use of conceptual tools. Central to this is identifying key patterns of action as translations. These patterns are then used to explore how translations are negotiated through to completion. In the case of Organisation A, this highlights the management of operations in a network of varied stakeholders. A key output of this study was in identifying the centres of controversy, as areas where translations fail, and need to be further explored. Identifying these areas creates a map which can be used by stakeholders to further assess and develop the empirical state of the network.