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Journal cover: Journal of Enterprise Information Management

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398
Previously published as: Logistics Information Management

Online from: 2004

Subject Area: Information and Knowledge Management

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The enterprise system as a part of an organization's administrative paradox

Document Information:
Title:The enterprise system as a part of an organization's administrative paradox
Author(s):Ulf Melin, (Department of Management and Engineering Information Systems, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Citation:Ulf Melin, (2010) "The enterprise system as a part of an organization's administrative paradox", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 23 Iss: 2, pp.181 - 200
Keywords:Information systems, Manufacturing resource planning, Organizational development
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17410391011019769 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:An earlier and shorter version of this article was published as a conference paper: Melin, U. (2003), “The ERP system as a part of an organization's administrative paradox”, in Ciborra, C.U., Mercurio, R., de Marco, M., Martinez, M. and Carignani, A. (Eds), Proceedings of the Eleventh European Conference on information Systems, Naples, Italy, pp. 1262-76.

Purpose – The main purpose of this paper is to discuss whether an enterprise system (ES) is a part of an organization's administrative paradox. The paper aims to question which role the ES has in organizing, focusing aspects of flexibility and stability.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is a qualitative, longitudinal, case study of how an ES maintains, and even reinforces, existing administrative organizational structures. The theoretical lens used is mainly structuration theory.

Findings – An ES can take the part of an organization's administrative paradox. An administrative paradox is two sides of the same coin when coordinating organizations – the concurrent striving for flexibility and stability. The studied ES even centralizes control, creates norms, and enhances power for actors in positions of authority (top management). Because of its structure and configuration the ES is a powerful tool to coordinate. The ES is considered to be organizationally ungainly, but at the same time indispensable.

Practical implications – The paper provides valuable insights on how the studied organizations try to deal with standardization/stability and flexibility that can be valuable for other system users or implementers to learn from, as well as the analysis as a whole.

Originality/value – The paper combines structuration theory and theories covering the administrative paradox and aspects of coordination in order to analyze and discuss the implementation and use of an ES.

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