Using Institutional Theory in Enterprise Systems Research: Developing a Conceptual Model from a Literature Review

Using Institutional Theory in Enterprise Systems Research: Developing a Conceptual Model from a Literature Review

Per Svejvig (Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/jeis.2013010101
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


This paper examines the use of institutional theory as a conceptually rich lens to study social issues of enterprise systems (ES) research. More precisely, the purpose is to categorize current ES research using institutional theory to develop a conceptual model that advances ES research. Key institutional features are presented such as isomorphism, rationalized myths, and bridging macro and micro structures, and institutional logics and their implications for ES research are discussed. Through a literature review of 181 articles, of which 18 papers are selected, the author’s built a conceptual model that advocates multi-level and multi-theory approaches and applies newer institutional aspects such as institutional logics. The findings show that institutional theory in ES research is in its infancy and adopts mainly traditional institutional aspects like isomorphism, with the organization as the level of analysis, and in several cases it is complemented by structuration theory and other theories.
Article Preview


Enterprise systems (ES) have been a major trend in both the private and public sectors over the past decade. They have been on the market since the beginning of the 90s (Jacobs & Weston, 2007) as a solution to the growing tendency for globalization, mergers and acquisitions (Chang, Gold, & Kettinger, 2003) and as a way to optimize and improve business operation (Häkkinen & Hilmola, 2008). The implementation of ES is often complex due to enterprise-wide integration and data standardization, adoption to “best-practice” business models with re-engineering of business processes, compressed schedules and, finally, the participation of a large number of stakeholders (Soh, Kien, & Tay-Yap, 2000, p. 47). ES often trigger major organizational changes and at the same time introduce high risk with a potential high reward (Chae & Lanzara, 2006, p. 100; Markus, 2004). Some companies have gained an important increase in productivity and speed (Häkkinen & Hilmola, 2008), while others have experienced failure-prone ES implementations (Grabski, Leech, & Lu, 2003; Sumner, 2003) due to users’ resistance (Grabski et al., 2003; Sumner, 2003), lack of senior management support (Sumner, 2003), misalignment between the ES and the organization (Sia & Soh, 2007) and many other reasons. Still others have highly overestimated the value of ES (Davenport, 1998; Robbins-Gioia, 2002) and realized that the benefits did not materialize (Lindley, Topping, & Lindley, 2008).

A major reason for failure-prone implementations and/or lack of benefits (Davenport, 1998) might be the focus on managerial and technical issues where instrumental solutions are considered superior and sufficient, ignoring implementation and integration problems (Dillard & Yuthas, 2006) with poor ability to manage change (see also Panorama Consulting Group, 2010). This might have severe consequences such as operational disruptions at go-live and hampered business operation afterwards (Markus, Axline, Petrie, & Tanis, 2000).

The widespread penetration of ES in organizations combined with the many challenges and problems associated with the management, implementation and use of ES implies that it is a highly important area of concern for both practice and academia. Much research has therefore been devoted to ES implementation and use in general as well as alignment between organizations and ES in particular, but, as argued by Pollock and Williams (2009) and others (Berente, 2009; Boudreau & Robey, 2005; Lamb & Kling, 2003), the research around “Enterprise Systems has been unevenly developed and unhelpfully fragmented between rather narrow (e.g. managerial or technical) perspectives” (Pollock & Williams, 2009, p. 5), which appears to simplify the social settings of modern enterprises, emphasize instrumental solutions and downplay social considerations.

  • IGI Global’s Seventh Annual Excellence in Research Journal Awards
    IGI Global’s Seventh Annual Excellence in Research Journal AwardsHonoring outstanding scholarship and innovative research within IGI Global's prestigious journal collection, the Seventh Annual Excellence in Research Journal Awards brings attention to the scholars behind the best work from the 2014 copyright year.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Open Access Articles
Volume 18: 4 Issues (2022): Forthcoming, Available for Pre-Order
Volume 17: 4 Issues (2021)
Volume 16: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 15: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 14: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 13: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 12: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2010)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2009)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2008)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2007)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2006)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2005)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing