Do the ends justify the means? A Gramscian Critique of the processes of consent during an ERP implementation

Willis, B and Chiasson, M (2007) Do the ends justify the means? A Gramscian Critique of the processes of consent during an ERP implementation. Information Technology and People, 20 (3). pp. 212-234. ISSN 0959-3845

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Purpose – ERP systems continue to fail. One success factor that has received little attention in the literature is cultural fit – which emphasizes the need for ERP systems to be chosen and adapted to current organizational practices. However, the dynamics behind culture and its fit with ERP require investigation. This paper aims to fills this gap. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws upon cultural and linguistic concepts from Antonio Gramsci to consider how consent is achieved in ERP implementation projects. These concepts include positive (integral) and negative (decadent and minimal) hegemony, as well as the production and effects of normative and spontaneous grammars. The paper examined the implementation of an ERP in a logistics company, using interview and documentary evidence. Findings – The findings reveal that, while consensus is apparently achieved across disparate groups and interests, it is achieved through the use of phrases which marginalized groups by their abstract and rhetorical nature. This implementation process allowed for the subordination of local interests, making it difficult to form alternative responses. It is concluded that decadent and minimal hegemonies prevailed, instead of an integral hegemony formed through continuous negotiation and debate across sub-groups. Research limitations/implications – The paper suggests that studies of ERP implementation using Gramsci's concepts of negative (minimal and decadent) and positive (integral) hegemonies, that influence cultural fit, can aid the study of positive and negative forms of consent. Practical implications – The paper illustrates how cultural fit during ERP implementation could be achieved through technical and cultural change-based grammars and languages which allow broad democratic participation. Originality/value – This paper illustrates the value of Gramsci's concepts in IS research, and provides valuable insights into the dynamics of “cultural fit”.

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Journal Article
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Information Technology and People
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11 Jul 2011 18:23
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 21:17