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This paper uses Actor‐Network Theory to examine the success and failure of development projects. Rejecting the common view that projects succeed on the basis of their superior objectives, planning and implementation, the paper proposes an alternative perspective drawn from Actor‐Network Theory: that success or failure is a product of the alliances that are mobilised, rather than the inherent qualities that are possessed. This argument is illustrated with reference to a 1970s development project, which involved the extraction of protein from plant leaves in order to provide a nutritional supplement for diets in Nigeria. By drawing on archival sources, the paper reconstructs the main actors involved in the project, analyses what caused them to become involved, and then turns attention to how these alliances fell apart. This paper is the third in the Actor-Network Theory for Development working paper series, published by the Centre for Development Informatics at the University of Manchester.

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Working paper


Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester

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