Among the new forms of technology that overwhelm information systems research and practice, configurable information systems refers to technologies that are built up from a range of components to meet the very specific requirements of a particular client organization. Software packages like enterprise resources planning (ERP) are good illustrations of configurable IS because they typically provide hundreds, or even thousands, of discrete features and data items that can be combined in multiple ways. They cannot be seen independently from their representations through external intermediaries (mediators), who “speak” for the technology by providing images, descriptions, policies, templates and, very often, solutions. From a critical-interpretive view, this paper proposes a new way of understanding the implementation of configurable solutions. Using seven retrospective case studies, we investigate the relationship built by clients and consultants during the configurational process, where visions of how the technology should operate are negotiated. Different degrees of dependencies are mutually constructed, maintained, and transformed in the long run, influencing the global- local negotiation and the project results. The main contribution of this research is (1) to recognize different patterns of mediation, i.e., different types of client-consultant relationships, and the different types of trajectories in terms of global-local negotiation these patterns are likely to produce; (2) to address how initial organizational decisions in terms of power and knowledge distribution between clients and consultants influence the negotiation between global principles and local contexts; and (3) to identify mediating strategies that may help organizations improve global-local negotiations and, hopefully, improve the benefit of embarking on such costly and risky projects.
Pozzebon, Marlei and Pinsonneault, Alain, "Implementation of Configurable Information Systems: Negotiations between Global Principles and Local Contexts" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 21.