Fitting standard software packages to non-standard organizations: The 'biography' of an enterprise-wide system

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This paper investigates the development and implementation of a generic off-the-shelf computer package and the competing pressures for standardization and differentiation as this package is made to fit new organizational settings. The particular focus is on an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and its application within universities. In order for the ERP system to fit this setting a new module called 'Campus' is being developed. We followed the module as the current 'generic user' embodied in the software was translated to a more 'specific user' ( a number of universities piloting the module) and back once again to a generic form of university user ( the potential 'global university marketplace'). We develop the notion that these systems have a 'biography', which helps us to analyse the evolution of software along its life cycle and provides insights into the different dynamics at play as Campus is translated for use in a number of institutions and countries. The study draws on over three years of ethnographic research conducted in a British University and a major ERP Supplier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-332
Number of pages16
JournalTechnology Analysis and Strategic Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003

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