A Teleological Process Theory for Managing ERP Implementations

Janet Collins, M.D. Williams, A. Morgan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose - The literature on ERP implementation has been dominated by variance theories which have identified numerous lists of critical success factors (CSFs) for managing implementation but there has been relatively little research adopting a process theory approach which explains how change occurs. One such theory, the teleological process, has been criticised in the IS literature for its capability to evolve and learn due to its convergence towards an end goal. Drawing upon the field of organisational development (OD), this article illustrates the usefulness of the theory and contends that, whilst it exhibits planned behaviour, events are adaptive and learned and emerge though social construction of actors in organisations. Design/methodology/approach - An in-depth interpretive study of eight public-sector organisations is used. Two primary methods of data collection were analysed during the investigation; survey questionnaires (2) and in-depth interviews (38). Findings - The data was analysed and contrasted with themes and attributes associated with teleological design. The article highlights how the central role of an agent or entity, and its interaction with eight key attributes, is critical to the success of the change process. Originality/value - The article proposes benefits of applying teleological theory to the context of designing the change, pre and post project implementation. Whilst the data is based in the UK, the framework also provides a useful starting point for further research in ERP implementation in developing and emerging nations of areas likely to be problematic.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Enterprise Information Management
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013


    • teleology
    • enterprise resource planning (erp) system
    • systems implementation
    • change management


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