Contradictions and the Appropriation of ERP Packages

Light, Ben & Papazafeiropoulou, Anastasia (2008) Contradictions and the Appropriation of ERP Packages. In Grabot, Bernard, Mayere, Anne, & Bazet, Isabelle (Eds.) ERP Systems and Organisational Change : A Socio-technical Insight. Springer-Verlag, London, pp. 85-99.

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Abstract

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software typically takes the form of a package that is licensed for use to those in a client organisation and is sold as being able to automate a wide range of processes within organisations. ERP packages have become an important feature of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructures in organizations. However, a number of highly publicised failures have been associated with the ERP packages too. For example: Hershey, Aero Group and Snap-On have blamed the implementation of ERP packages for negative impacts upon earnings (Scott and Vessey 2000); Cadbury Schweppes implemented plans to fulfil 250 orders where normally they would fulfil 1000 due to the increased complexity and the need to re-train staff post implementation (August 1999) and FoxMeyer drug company’s implementation of an ERP package has been argued to have lead to bankruptcy proceedings resulting in litigation against SAP, the software vendor in question (Bicknell 1998). Some have even rejected a single vendor approach outright (Light et. al. 2001). ERP packages appear to work for some and not for others, they contain contradictions. Indeed, if we start from the position that technologies do not provide their own explanation, then we have to consider the direction of a technological trajectory and why it moves in one way rather than another (Bijker and Law 1994). In other words, ERP appropriation cannot be predetermined as a success, despite the persuasive attempts of vendors via their websites and other marketing channels. Moreover, just because ERP exists, we cannot presume that all will appropriate it in the same fashion, if at all. There is more to the diffusion of innovations than stages of adoption and a simple demarcation between adoption and rejection. The processes that are enacted in appropriation need to be conceptualised as a site of struggle, political and imbued with power (Hislop et. al. 2000; Howcroft and Light, 2006). ERP appropriation and rejection can therefore be seen as a paradoxical phenomenon. In this paper we examine these contradictions as a way to shed light on the presence and role of inconsistencies in ERP appropriation and rejection. We argue that much of the reasoning associated with ERP adoption is pro-innovation biased and that deterministic models of the diffusion of innovations such as Rogers (2003), do not adequately take account of contradictions in the process. Our argument is that a better theoretical understanding of these contradictions is necessary to underpin research and practice in this area. In the next section, we introduce our view of appropriation. Following this is an outline of the idea of contradiction, and the strategies employed to ‘cope’ with this. Then, we introduce a number of reasons for ERP adoption and identify their inherent contradictions using these perspectives. From this discussion, we draw a framework, which illustrates how the interpretive flexibility of reasons to adopt ERP packages leads to contradictions which fuel the enactment of appropriation and rejection.

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ID Code: 75678
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1007/978-1-84800-183-1_6
ISBN: 9781848001824
ISSN: 1860-5168
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Springer-Verlag
Deposited On: 27 Aug 2014 23:15
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 16:49

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