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Keywords:

  • enterprise systems;
  • identity;
  • user resistance;
  • deskilling

Abstract.  This paper presents a longitudinal study of an Enterprise System (ES) implementation by critically examining the discursive context in which an ES implementation unfolds. The findings show that users strongly supported the ES in the earlier stage of implementation when the technology was an imaginary phenomenon. However, in later stages, when the technology is in use, user support was not consistent. In this phase, the ES produces loss of control and an inability to function as an arbiter of fairness (in allocating resources associated with the system), thereby directly challenging existing professional identities and roles. These outcomes, in turn, generate acts of resistance on the part of workers. Users reach inside the technology and reshape it by devising creative workarounds that produce a sense of reskilling to counter the deskilling produced by the loss of control and power. The analysis also shows that an ES is a complex social phenomenon that is intricately linked to and complicit in shaping organizational structure and identity. In particular, this study shows how technology, structure and identity are in a mutually constitutive relationship.