Institutional Logics and Loosely Coupled Practices: The Case of NASA's Enterprise Information System Implementation
21 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2014
Date Written: January 9, 2009
This paper reports on three independent studies: (1) a qualitative meta‐analysis of published, interpretive case studies on the adoption of ERP; (2) a study of conflicting institutional logics and loose coupling in the wake of NASA’s ERP implementation; and (3) a study of loose coupling across the four years following this implementation. The goal of the research is to theorize about the causes and effects of loose coupling between local practices and the ERP system. Findings indicate that in situations where the institutional logics associated with incumbent practices conflict with that of ERP, the result will likely involve some form of loose coupling. This research finds that incidents of loose coupling early in the implementation tend stabilize over time in loosely coupled equilibrium rather than into the tight alignment that is often assumed to be necessary for system success. Thus, "stability" is found to be a key objective relating to enterprise system implementation in addition to the presumptive goals of integration and control. Further, due in part to the legitimizing influence that a stable ERP system affords, the tightly coupled enterprise system can counter‐intuitively be viewed as an enabler of NASA’s loosely coupled organizational structures.
Note: This paper summarizes Nicholas Berente’s PhD thesis, which was written under the guidance of Kalle Lyytinen and Youngjin Yoo and won the ACM SIGMIS dissertation award in 2009. The dissertation research was supported by NASA’s office of the CIO, in particular Sasi Pillay, CIO of NASA Glenn.
Keywords: institutional logics, loose coupline, enterprise information systems
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