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Abstract

Acquisition and development remains an important aspect of enterprise systems research. In practice, it means reference users interact in and across organizations to fill gaps in knowledge and offer their experience as models or standards for others. Despite their importance, how reference users influence the acquisition process and the role of IT in its development have received scant attention. This paper presents a study of how reference users shape and lead the acquisition and development of enterprise systems (ES). We derive our findings from investigating and conducting a case study on Xizi Holdings, one of the largest private enterprises in China. Our model deploys a theoretical lens of the social shaping of technology in the context of inter-organizational ES adoption. We build the model on stage-wise observations of the roles that reference users play across the ES acquisition and development process in Xizi, and how Xizi brings together hundreds of autonomous IT systems across 128 subsidiaries under one enterprise-wide vision. Our study model identifies three intermediary mechanisms (i.e., attaching, staging, and shaping of technology) that reference users in the process of negotiating ES acquisition and development enable.

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