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Abstract

This paper draws upon the institutional theory lens to examine enterprise information systems. We propose that these information systems engender a duality. On one hand, these systems are subject to institutional forces and institutional processes that set the rules of rationality. On the other hand, they are an important embodiment of institutional commitments and serve to preserve these rules by constraining the actions of human agents. The complexity inherent to enterprise technologies renders them an equivoque. This, when combined with the propensity toward lack of mindfulness in organizations, is likely to lead to acquiescence to institutional pressures. Enterprise information systems bind organizations to fundamental choices about how their activities should be organized; unquestioned choices that tend to appear natural. We suggest implications of this view and develop propositions examining: (1) enterprise information systems as objects of institutional forces in the "chartering" and "project" phases, (2) the resolution of institutional misalignments caused by the introduction of new systems, and (3) enterprise information systems as carriers of institutional logics in the "shakeout" and "onward & upward" phases.

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