Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management., Sociology, Organisation Theory, History

Publication Details

Donnelly, P. (2008) ‘Actor-Network Theory and Organizational Forming: An Amodern Path Dependence Perspective.’ Studying Path Dependencies of Businesses, Institutions and Technologies. Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (February).


The organizational theory literature has identified the emergence and evolution of organizational forms as a critical issue to be addressed, yet new ways of looking at organizational form have yet to be addressed and there are concerns about the largely ahistorical and aprocessual character of much organizational theorizing. While path dependence, as conventionally conceived, presents an avenue for overcoming the lack of historical contingency in mainstream organizational theories, it does not maintain an opening for forming. Here is where actor-network theory comes in to not only argue that organizational forming is ongoing, but also show how it is made unrecognizable by our modes of theorizing. Of particular interest to this framing is the re-articulation of path dependence as a constructivist endeavor, incorporating the concept into actor-network theory through its reconsideration as ‘irreversibilility’.