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Enterprise resource planning and the post bureaucratic organization: “Formalization” as trust in the system versus “solidarity” as trust in individuals

Alan Lowe (Aston Business School, Birmingham, UK)
Joanne Locke (Birmingham Business School, Birmingham, UK)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 14 November 2008




The purpose of the paper is to use a case study setting involving the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to expose and analyze the conflicts in the characterizations of the post bureaucratic organisation (PBO) in the literature. ERP implementations are often accompanied by increasing levels of stress in organizations that place pressures on organizational relationships and structures. Additionally, ERPs are regarded as introducing their own techno‐logic of centralization, standardization and formalization that provides an apparent contrast to the exhortations about employee empowerment.


A case study of ERP implementation in a medium‐sized entity is presented. The paper explores aspects of ERP and PBO from the context of postmodern organization theory.


Some concerns about PBO identified in the literature are reflected in the case situation. For example, there is a commitment to give up private time and work flexibly by some employees. The paper also provides evidence of the way the management team substitute their reliance on a key individual knowledge worker for that of an ERP system and external vendor support. Paradoxically, trust in that same knowledge worker and between core users of the system is essential to enable the implementation of the system.


This paper adds empirical insight to a predominantly theoretical literature. The case evidence indicates some conflicting implications in the concurrent adoption of PBO and ERP.



Lowe, A. and Locke, J. (2008), "Enterprise resource planning and the post bureaucratic organization: “Formalization” as trust in the system versus “solidarity” as trust in individuals", Information Technology & People, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 375-400.



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