Assembling the actors: exploring the challenges of ‘system leadership’ in education through Actor-Network Theory
This paper presents insights into the leadership implications of recent shifts in a range of policy contexts towards notions of collaboration and partnership. The paper draws on empirical research into the formation and operation of government instituted networks in the context of education in Victoria, Australia. From 2001, School Networks and Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLEN) were implemented by the state government to support young people in their transition through school and into employment in a context of a risk society (Beck 1992), a context where pathways into sustainable employment for young people, and others, had become more erratic. For comparative purposes, the paper also draws on published research into the implementation of joined-up approaches, including Primary Strategy Learning Networks (PSLN), in England (Moore and Rutherford 2012). Using concepts from Actor Network Theory (ANT), the paper argues for the value of considering the full range of actors - both human and non-human, real and unreal - involved in networking initiatives and proposes some thoughts on the implications of such a sociology of associations for both leadership and governance.