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Abstract

Packaged software applications such as enterprise systems are designed to support generic rather than specific requirements, and hence are likely to be an imperfect fit in any particular instance. Using critical realism as our philosophical perspective, we conducted a three-year qualitative study of misfits that arose from an enterprise system (ES) implementation. A detailed analysis of the observed misfits resulted in a richer understanding of the concept of fit and of the ES artifact itself. Specifically, we found six misfit domains (functionality, data, usability, role, control and organizational culture) and within each, two types of misfit (deficiencies and impositions). These misfit types correspond to two newly defined types of fit: fit as coverage and fit as enablement. Our analysis of fit also revealed a new conceptualization of the ES artifact, with implications for IT artifacts in general.

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