A Multi-level Theory of Post-Adoptive Adaptation and Organisational Change in Enterprise System Implementation: The Case of CRM
The implementation of a new enterprise system is a major change event for end-users. Users must adapt themselves to learn and understand the new enterprise system as well as engage with the system in their work practices. In addition, organisations need to modify organisational processes and structures to support the new enterprise system. Past research has largely focused on initial organisational adoption decisions concerning an enterprise system. However, there has been little research concerning the use of the enterprise system and the associated change process in the post-adoption stage.
This study addresses this gap by developing a multi-level theory of post-adoptive adaptation and organisational change associated with enterprise system implementation in organisations. This study focuses on enterprise system implementation in the context of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The research questions are: (1) How do organisational changes unfold in enterprise system implementation in the context of CRM systems? (2) How do individuals adapt to an enterprise system in the context of CRM systems at the post-adoptive stage?
The study adopted a qualitative interpretive case study method to develop a multi-level theory. Multiple sources of data including interviews and supporting documents were collected and analysed in order to understand individuals’ adaptation behaviours and organisational changes in the post-adoption stage of enterprise system implementation. This study employed an embedded multiple-case design and multi-level analysis. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 43 participants in three different types of business organisations: innovative office automation solutions, an insurance business, and a hospital. The participants were management, users, and IT support staff.
Three concurrent data analysis processes (data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification) were conducted to analyse data and to build a multi-level theory. In addition, the data analysis processes were carried out to identify critical events and gaps which occurred during the change process. During the data analysis stage, low-level codes, interpretive codes, and pattern codes were developed to answer the research questions and build theory. Within-case and cross-case analysis was conducted to explore individuals’ adaptation behaviours and organisational change in each organisation and compared with the other organisations to identify similarities and differences.
The study develops new knowledge based on how an integrated theoretical perspective using coping theory and a socio-technical perspective can inform ICT-enabled changes in organisations. The findings revealed five core pattern codes. The pattern codes of changing structure of work, consequences of CRM implementation, and transparency tool and control mechanism revealed organisations change. The pattern codes of adaptation behaviours and factors influencing adaptation behaviours reflected individual adaptation. These two levels of analysis were interrelated.
This research contributes to the literature of user adaptation, organisational change, and enterprise systems by presenting a multi-level theory of post-adoptive adaptation and organisational change following enterprise system implementation. The results showed that organisations changed their structure of work after enterprise system implementation, which led to the generation of gaps in socio-technical components and consequences. The generation of gaps had a significant impact on individual adaptation behaviours. The findings will assist organisations in providing appropriate resources and support for successful enterprise system implementations at the post-adoption stage.