Chapter

Social Network Analysis, Transaction-Cost Analysis, and Actor-Network Theory: Three Approaches to Networks

Grahame F. Thompson

in Between Hierarchies and Markets

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780198775270
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191710513 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198775270.003.0003
 Social Network Analysis, Transaction-Cost Analysis, and Actor-Network Theory: Three Approaches to Networks

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This chapter compares and analyses three theoretically driven approaches to the analysis of networks: social network analysis (SNA), transaction cost analysis (TCA), and actor-network theory (ANT). Each approach makes a claim to analysing hierarchies and markets as well. In the ANT approach, a network is not an intermediate form of organisation, but a set of relations between actors and techniques. Both ANT and SNA view network as an analytical tool that encompasses and explains both markets and hierarchies as variations of network structures. Only TCA offers an explicit defence of networks being intrinsically different from markets or hierarchies—in the way they coordinate and govern—but these differences can be conceptualised using a single analytical technique and transaction costs. This chapter examines the arguments against the ubiquity of TCA for the analysis of socio-economic coordination and governance, along with the ANT approach to market, organisation, and management, and interlocking directorates as an example of the SNA approach.

Keywords: networks; markets; hierarchies; social network analysis; transaction cost analysis; actor-network theory; organisation; management; socio-economic coordination; governance

Chapter.  11294 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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