Working in the Shadows

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Working in the Shadows

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Title: Working in the Shadows
Understanding ERP Usage as Complex Responsive Processes of Conversations in the Daily Practices of a Special Operations Force
Author: Christiansen, Ulrik; Kjærgaard, Annemette; Hartmann, Rasmus Koss
Abstract: Organizations are met with increasing demands for being in strategic control. According to conventional managerial wisdom, clearly defined tasks, uniform processes, thorough documentation and strategic oversight are all perceived as part and parcel of making large and unwieldy organizations manageable, transparent and efficient (Johnson, Scholes, & Whittington, 2008; Kaplan & Norton, 2008). To live up to these demands, numerous efforts have been undertaken, including the design and implementation of management information systems. These systems, as epitomized in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, seek to bring the organization under strategic control by creating a unified infrastructure for collecting and analyzing data from virtually all fields of organizational operations to enable planning and monitoring of activities (Kallinikos, 2006). Expectations of these systems at all levels of the organization are high as they are expected to create organizational transparency and oversight for decision making (Hanseth, Ciborra, & Braa, 2001). In this paper, we explore how ERP systems are used and impact local practice in a specialized unit within The Danish Defense. Specifically, we ask what role SAP R/31 plays in enabling and constraining everyday local practice and the handling of complexity and uncertainty at the organizational front‐line. We draw on a case study conducted in a special operations force unit within the Danish Defense, “The Frogman Corps”. The case illuminates the difficulties of using ERP systems for management control in organizations experiencing complex operational conditions, including tension between centralized control and uniformity on the one hand and unpredictability and need for decentralized decision making on the other hand.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/8364
Date: 2011-11-18

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