Information system integration, enabling control and performance

Abstract: The literature has demonstrated the complex relationship between information system integration approaches, such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems, and management control. In this paper, we begin our analysis by focussing on just one aspect of information system integration, namely in terms of data architecture, commonly referred to as the single database concept. We argue that whilst this particular aspect of integration should be related to perceived system success, the variety of ways in which information might be drawn on in practice means it provides no strong basis for predicting a link to business unit performance. Instead, building on Adler and Borys [Adler, P., & Borys, B. (1996). Two types of bureaucracy: Enabling and coercive. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(1), 61–90] we argue that the level of information system integration fosters the four design characteristics that make up an enabling approach to management control. Each of these in turn is related to both perceived system success and business unit performance. We present PLS analysis of survey data collected from 169 managers that broadly supports these expectations.

Approaches to information system integration(ISI), such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, which integrate and draw data from a common database, are fundamentally bound up with organisational processes of accounting. They seek to systematise and co-ordinate record keeping, the design and implementation of structures of categorisation and aggregation of transactions, ultimately allowing for the generation and manipulation of
comprehensive virtual perspectives on the nature and flow of operations and resources (Chapman,
2005). Such ISI has been argued to potentially tighten traditional forms of control, since it constrains
opportunities for individual choice, simultaneously enhancing the hierarchical visibility of
those choices that remain (Orlikowski, 1991; Sotto, 1997). However, ISI has also been argued (by vendors
not least) to support flexibility and innovation.

ISI potentially allows for the discovery and testing of assumptions and relationships, allowing managers
to drill down from abstract summary data through progressively more detailed records of organisational
activity (Davenport, 1998). Thus, ISI has been seen to present apparently contradictory potentials
of flexibility and control (Orlikowski, 1991).


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