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Who fixes the meaning of time? Exercise of ideological power during the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning technology in a Western organization in India..


Kandathil, George

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Within the present context of globalization, the design of the IT system usually occurs in one country while its implementation takes place in several other countries. The implementing countries may have long-held time-related practices and understandings that contrast with the IT designing country. These contrasts can initiate ideological exercise of power in relation to meaning of time during IT implementation since IT artifacts embody designers‘ practices and the undelying belief system. This study examines such an exercise of power—an under-explored issue—using an in-depth longitudinal case study of the implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in a Western multinational organization in India. While the extant studies on the politics of technology change in organizations demonstrate how a discourse inscribes order and relations of power into a given technology, they rarely consider temporal aspects. On the other hand, the IT studies that examine the role of time in IT implementation do not focus on the exercise of power in relation to fixing and inscribing the meaning of time. Connecting these two disparate streams of scholarship, I show the simultaneous influence of two contrasting sets of meanings of time on the actors involved in the ERP implementation, the tensions that this contrast generates and the implications for customization of ERP package. Further, I demonstrate that ERP consultants exercise expert power not only using technical knowledge but also by highlighting and appropriating the discourses in the organization and the surrounding society. Thus, the study expands the current understanding about ERP consultants‘ exercise of expert power.