Incongruence and enactment in information systems : a sensemaking analysis

Le Roux, Daniel Bartholomeus (2013-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the six decades since organisations rst adopted computer machinery to support their operations this form of technology has undergone rapid evolution. This evolution is characterised by both the advancement of the machines themselves and the expansion of their application in the organisational domain through the development of increasingly advanced software. A particularly in uential development for large enterprises has been the introduction of computerised Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERPs) and the popularisation of proprietary ERP packages. By integrating the feature sets of an increasingly wide range of business software applications ERPs enable organisations to satisfy a large part of their information processing requirements by adopting a single software artefact. This approach o ers numerous bene ts to adopters as it ensures the integration of information processing activities across organisational functions. However, the realisation of these bene ts depends upon the organisation's ability to achieve congruence between its own structures and those embedded in proprietary ERP packages. This includes, on one level, the management of the processes of adaptation through which organisational actors become accustomed to a new technology and, on another level, the con guration and alignment of the artefact with the organisation's operating procedures. Despite the popularity of ERP adoption the achievement of congruence in information systems is an illusive ideal for many organisations. Accordingly, many Information Systems (IS) scholars have researched the organisational, technical and social factors which obstruct congruence and the interventions proposed to counter these. A key nding following from these investigations is that, notwithstanding the implementation of countering interventions, organisations often need to continue operations while experiencing some degree of incongruence or mis t in their information systems. The research performed in this study advances knowledge about this phenomenon by investigating the implications of incongruence for the behaviour of users of proprietary ERPs in organisations. Weickean Sensemaking Theory is adopted as conceptual framework to enable the investigation of instances of incongruence as events experienced by users in the context of their work environments. The theory dictates that users, rather than passively adopting the impositions of software artefacts, en- act information systems in unpredictable ways based on subjective and shared processes of sensemaking. An empirical investigation is performed and takes the form of a single, cross-sectional case study in which a variety of data collection techniques are utilised. The data sources are analysed and triangulated to trace the relationship between experiences of incongruence and patterns of information systems enactment among the user community. The ndings of the study reveal that experiences of incongruence cultivate knowledge sharing among a user community, a process which aligns their beliefs about the nature, role and use of a technology in an organisation. Furthermore, experiences of incongruence encourage users to augment designed technologies through the development informal information processing activities and alternative work ows. These forms of behaviour, while resolving users' experiences incongruence, lead to variance between the designed technology and the enacted technology creating various risks for the integrity of the organisation's business processes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die ses dekades sedert organisasies rekenaar masjinerie begin toepas het om hul bedrywighede te ondersteun, het hierdie vorm van tegnologie dramatiese ontwikkeling ondergaan. Hierdie ontwikkeling word gekenmerk deur beide die bevordering van die masjiene self, asook die uitbreiding van hul toepassings in die organisatoriese domein deur die ontwikkeling van meer gevorderde sagteware. 'n Besonder invloedryke ontwikkeling vir groot ondernemings was die bekendstelling van gerekenariseerde Enterprise Resource Plan- ning Systems (ERPs) en die popularisering van kommersiële ERP pakkette. Deur die integrasie van 'n toenemend wye verskeidenheid funksionaliteit stel ERPs organisasies in staat om 'n groot deel van hul inligting verwerking vereistes deur die aanneming van 'n enkele sagteware produk te dek - 'n benadering wat talle voordele bied aangesien dit die integrasie van inligting verwerking tussen organisatoriese funksies verseker. Die verwesenliking van hierdie voordele is egter afhanklik van die organisasie se vermoë om kongruensie tussen sy eie strukture en die van ERP pakkette te bewerkstelling. Dit sluit die bestuur van prosesse waartydens organisatoriese akteurs aanpas by 'n nuwe tegnologie in, asook die kon gurasie van die pakket om belyning met die organisasie se operasionele prosedures te verseker. Ten spyte van die gewildheid van ERPs is die bereiking van kongruensie in inligtingstelsels 'n ontwykende ideaal vir baie organisasies. Gevolglik word die organisatoriese, tegniese en sosiale faktore wat kongruensie belemmer gereeld deur Information Systems (IS) akademici ondersoek. 'n Prominenete bevinding wat uit hierdie navorsing voortspruit is dat organisasies dikwels hul werk moet voortsit ten spyte van inkongruensie in hul inligtingstelsels. In hierdie studie word die bovermelde fenomeen verder ondersoek deur die implikasies van inkongruensie vir die gedrag van gebruikers van kommersiële ERP pakkette te ondersoek. Weick se Sensemaking teorie word toegepas as konseptuele raamwerk om gevalle van inkongruensie as gebeure wat deur gebruikers ervaar word te ondersoek. Die teorie bepaal dat die gebruikers nie bloot rekenaarstelsels aanvaar nie, maar dit op onvoorspelbare maniere enact op grond van subjektiewe en gedeelde prosesse van singewing. 'n Gevallestudie word uitgevoer waarin 'n verskeidenheid data-insamelingstegnieke gebruik word. Die databronne word ontleed en kruisvalidasie word gedoen om die verhouding tussen ervarings van inkongruensie en patrone van gedrag binne inligtingstelsels te beskryf. Die bevindinge van die studie dui daarop dat ervarings van inkongruensie die deel van kennis binne 'n gebruikersgemeenskap tot gevolg het. Hierdie proses belyn gebruikers se verwysingsraamwerke oor die aard, rol en gebruik van 'n tegnologie in 'n organisasie. Verder word bevind dat gebruikers, agv ervarings van inkongruensie, 'n tegnologie uitbrei dmv die ontwikkeling van informele inligting verwerkingstegnieke en alternatiewe werksprosesse. Hierdie gedrag stel gebruikers in staat om inkongruensie te oorkom, maar lei tot variansie tussen die ontwerpte tegnologie en die toepassing daarvan binne die organisasie. Dit hou verskeie risiko's vir die integriteit van die organisasie se besigheidsprosesse in.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85663
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