Workshop – CfP: Performing ANT – Socio-Material Practices of Organizing

17-18 February 2012 University of St. Gallen (Switzerland)

The concept of performativity is at the heart of the body of literature which emerged out of Science and Technology Studies and has become best known under the acronym ANT as actor-network theory. A central feature of ANT, as Alcadipani and Hassard (2010, p. 4/5) emphasize, “is to attempt to explain how ‘ordering effects’ … are performed into being”. In this context, performativity describes the process of establishing relations between heterogeneous materials of humans and non-humans. It is part and parcel of a wider process perspective which asks “how it is that things get performed (and perform themselves) into relations that are relatively stable and stay in place” (Law, 1999, p. 4). At the same time, however, this durability is always temporary. Phenomena are seen as categorically uncertain and open-ended as they are understood as performed through continuous (re-)production and perpetuation processes that are open to failings.

For this workshop we invite papers from early-career researchers (from doctoral through to assistant professor level) that explore the ways in which ANT and its inherent notion of performativity can be used to advance our understanding of socio- material practices of organizing. We encourage submissions both from the traditional areas of interest within organization and management studies, but also from related fields such as human geography, urban studies, anthropology, sociology and others, that attend to performative aspects of doing organizational research. In particular, we are looking for contributions that put an ANT account of performativity into dialogue with notions of ‘the performative’ from other fields such as (but not limited to) linguistics, gender and queer theory, performance studies, anthropology or sociology. We welcome papers that seek to make a conceptual contribution as well as those that bring to bear conceptual insights on method and empirical analysis, spurring our imagination for doing research in, on and around organizations.

The format of the workshop will be a small-group, intense discussion of a selection of about six papers. Three senior researchers have been invited to give a keynote address and act as discussants for the accepted papers:

  • John Hassard (University of Manchester)
  • Tor Hernes (Copenhagen Business School)
  • Steve Woolgar (tbc) (University of Oxford)

The organizers welcome paper proposals (maximum 500 words) by 15 October 2011. Upon acceptance, the selected participants will have to provide a full-length working paper as the basis for discussion by 15 January 2012. The workshop will take place at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland on 17 and 18 February 2012. Accommodation and meals will be provided free of charge. Please send your proposals to:, and

Relevant literature includes:

  • Alcadipani, R., and J. Hassard. 2010. Actor-Network Theory, Organizations and Critique: Towards a Politics of Organizing. Organization 17(4):419-435.
  • Hassard, J., M. Kelemen, and J. W. Cox. 2008. Disorganization Theory: Explorations in Alternative Organizational Analysis. London: Routledge.
  • Hernes, T. (2004) The Spatial Construction of Organization. John Benjamins: Amsterdam.
  • Hernes, T. (2008) Understanding Organization as Process: Theory for a Tangled World. Routledge: Abingdon.
  • Hernes, Tor (2010) ‘Actor-Network Theory, Callon’s Scallops, and Process-Based Organization Studies’, in T. Hernes and S. Maitlis (eds) Process, Sensemaking and Organizing, pp. 161-84. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
  • Law, J. 1994. Organizing Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Law, J., and J. Hassard eds. 1999. Actor-network Theory and After. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Lee, N. and Hassard, J. (1999) ‘Organization Unbound: Actor-Network Theory, Research Strategy and Institutional Flexibility’, Organization 6(3): 391-404.
  • McLean, C. and Hassard, J. (2004) ‘Symmetrical Absence/Symmetrical Absurdity: Critical Notes on the Production of Actor-Network Accounts’, Journal of Management Studies 41(3): 493-519.
  • Whittle, A., and A. Spicer. 2008. Is Actor-Network Theory Critique? Organization Studies 29 (4):611-629.
  • Woolgar, S., Coopmans, C. and Neyland, D. (2009) ‘Does STS Mean Business?’, Organization 16(1): 5-30.