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Abstract

Although actor-network theory (ANT) is enjoying increasing interest in information systems research, we are still in the early stages of understanding and appreciating ANT’s potential for drawing lessons and developing guidance for industry practitioners. This paper focuses on extending that practical understanding. Here, ANT is applied in creating an account of a human-services firm’s experience in building its first major information system. Several practical implications are drawn that point the way toward further adapting ANT thinking for applied use in system-project contexts. Central among the insights are: the potential value in viewing project leadership in terms of actor-network management; the need to treat network management more as a matter of facilitation than control; the importance of recognizing that the effective management of interests may have to begin with the very constitution of those interests; the need to understand how indirect representations of key interests during software construction may break down when the interests themselves are directly engaged during implementation; the need to manage the particulars of critical issues on which network stability depends; and the importance of grasping the interdependence between network stability and adaptability in design.

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