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"Conflict contagion effects from previous IT projects: action research during preliminary phases of a DST implementation project"
Peter Bou Saba, Régis Meissonier
21ème colloque de l'Association Information et Management, 18-20 mai 2016, Lille, France

Best paper award
User conflicts and resistance behaviours are important issues during Information System (IS) implementation. However, despite a large body of user resistance, conflicts, user acceptance or task-technology alignment literature focusing on on-going Information Technology (IT) projects, there is little literature addressing the impact of resistance behaviours that occurred in the past during previous IT projects, on the IT to-be-implemented. IS managers need to anticipate potential causes for project failure because of actual resistance behaviours, but also because of previous conflict behaviours. This paper discusses a 2-year action research project conducted at Efficient Innovation (a European leader in innovation management consulting) during preliminary phases of its R&D portfolio management Decision Support System (DST) implementation project. Through the lens of resistance behaviours, our findings reveal the following: (1) The tool was used by DST-advocate groups as a legitimation and homogenisation tool (boundary object) to cover consultants having different skills, or lack of skills: a socio-political oriented conflict appeared to hide a task-oriented conflict. Beyond the task-oriented conflict, a socio-political oriented conflict appeared to hide a struggle for power and appreciation, and (2) Different conflict behaviours came to light, associated with the firm's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The observation was that conflict behaviours expressed towards an existing IT (ERP) can be contagious and cascaded to another IT to-be-implemented (DST). The underlying message of this paper for researchers and practitioners is to consider the latter previous resistance behaviours and potential conflict contagion effects as a key process embedded into IT design.