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Title: Toward an 'IT Conflict-Resistance Theory': Action Research during IT Pre-Implementation
Authors:Régis Meissonier, Emmanuel Houzé
Review:European Journal of Information Systems
Remark:This article received the 2011 Syntec Academic Award for best publication in Management Science
Abstract:Most empirical research on users' resistance toward IT has been conducted after implementation of IT in organisations. Little research has been done on the way individual and group resistance emerges and evolves during prior stages of projects. This focus on pre-implementation phases is important since IS managers need to anticipate potential conflicts and users' resistance that can involve project failure. While IS literature has separately developed theories on resistance and conflicts, we conceptualise a whole theoretic-system we call "IT Conflict-Resistance Theory" (IT-CRT). This theory is used as driver for a two year action research project conducted at Netia Corporation (a worldwide leader in video and audio broadcasting) during preliminary phases of its ERP implementation project. According to our findings, while conflicts toward IT implementation are often considered to have negative effects and require being actively managed by top managers, the case study delivers an alternative observation: a passive-like attitude of managers during the IT pre-implantation phase does not prevent the resolution of a socio-political oriented conflict between two groups of employees. Our observations illustrate how the avoidance management style invites team members to cope with conflict situations and to express tacit causes of resistance. While most MIS methods tend naturally to maximize users' satisfaction and to reduce potential resistance, the IT-CRT theory developed in this article supports an alternative approach: enhancing resistance in order to anticipate and resolve latent conflicts that are directly or indirectly related to the project. The underlying message of this article for researchers and practitioners is to consider users' resistance toward IT as a key process embedded into IT choices and IS design.
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