Counter-networks in standardization: a perspective of developing countries

Present information systems studies focus on technology from developed countries. Little is known about the development and implementation of indigenous technology in the developing world. This paper investigates China's experience of developing and deploying wireless local-area network (WLAN) standards. First, drawing upon actor-network theory, I interpret WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) standardization as a process of the actor-network formation. Specifically, different actors were enrolled into two counter-networks, namely the defensive network and the challenging network. These actors and the two counter-networks struggled to dominate the interest inscriptions in the strategy of WLAN standardization. China's WAPI initiative failed because it could not establish a strong defensive network. Furthermore, I analyse the social, institutional and technological elements that determined the process of WAPI standardization. This case study demonstrates that counter-network is a useful concept to analyse the mechanism of actor-network formation. My analytical model in which the macro contexts are connected with the micro network dynamics can be drawn upon by other actor-network studies on technology design and implementation. Practical implications for developing countries to develop the indigenous technologies have been given.


URL (Wiley Online Library)


Actor-network theory, China, Developing countries, Standardization, Standards, WLAN

Additional information:

AuthorsGao, Ping (Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, UK)
Keywords:Actor-network theory, China, Developing countries, Standardization, Standards, WLAN
Last update:2007