A recent stream of information systems research emphasises the institutional or structural forces that can be embodied in an enterprise system. Other research focuses on the locally idiosyncratic adoption patterns of users after an enterprise systems implementation. To understand the tension that arises when these opposing views meet, we draw on Foucault’s notion of dressage. Dressage implies the exercise of total control by a governing body over the activities of its inhabitant population. In a context of enterprise systems, dressage is reflected in the control-rooted standardised rationality which is inherent in such systems, as well as in the ostensive compliance of individuals to such systems. Dressage highlights that enterprise systems may contain elements of non-productive control, and that responses to such control may appear to be compliant, whereas non-standardised locally idiosyncratic activities persist outside of the system’s gaze. These “organic” activities may be vital for organisational flexibility and for ongoing effective organisational performance.
Berente, N; Gal, Uri; and Yoo, Youngjin, "Dressage and the illusion of management control" (2006). ECIS 2006 Proceedings. 155.