This paper presents a novel way of thinking about how information systems are used in organizations. Traditionally, computerized information systems are viewed as objects. In contrast, by viewing the information system as an actor, our understanding of the structuration process increases. The user, being influenced by the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and giving it an actor role, thereby also confers agency on the ERP system. Through its very use, it influences actions and thus the structure as well. Based on a case study of ERP use in an ABB company for over a decade, five different roles played by the ERP system were identified. The ERP system acted as Bureaucrat, Manipulator, Administrator, Consultant or wasdismissed (Dismissed) in the sense that intended users chose to avoid using them. The purpose of this approach is not to “animate” the information system, to give it life or a mind of its own, but rather to make explicit the socially constructed roles conferred on the information system by users and others who are affected by it. On this basis, it is possible to suggest how the roles can help us open up new areas of exploration concerning the fruitful use of information technology.
Askenaes, Linda and Westelius, Alf, "Five Roles of an Information System: A Social Constructionist Approach to Analyzing the Use of ERP Systems" (2000). ICIS 2000 Proceedings. 40.