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Social dimension in ERP adoption and implementation: The evolution of Organizational Identity after an M&A

Luigi De Bernardis (CeRSI, LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome, Italy)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 10 August 2012




The purpose of this study is to illustrate how the adoption of new enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems affects sensemaking in the process of Organizational Identity (OI) integration after a Merger and Acquisition (M&A).


Within a wider case study about an acquisition in chemical/pharmaceutical industry, the paper describes the effects of SAP adoption and implementation on the organizational identity. This methodology, based on semi‐structured interviews to project leaders and to team members, has allowed a deep comprehension of the context, even if results cannot provide statistical evidence of relationships.


Using the Swanson and Ramiller's approach to innovation, the paper argues that ERP adoption and implementation support sensemaking process if innovation takes place with mindfulness and because, in that case, people interact on symbolic meanings sharing retrospective knowledge and cognitive causal maps. After an M&A there are conditions for a mindful innovation with IT and therefore innovating with IT can be an effective way to enforce sensemaking process and, as a consequence, to influence the Organizational Identity evolution. In a constructionist approach, the evolution of organizational identity requires a social negotiation among members where sensemaking has a primary role. So, the integration process following acquisitions can be facilitated by adopting, implementing and assimilating common IT solutions with mindfulness.

Research limitations/implications

The first limitation of this study is referred to timing. The author entered into the company within a year after the acquisition and went out at the beginning of SAP assimilation phase. Therefore, some perceptions could still evolve in different ways. The second limitation depends on the fact that the author analyzed a single case. By focusing on one case of acquisition – an acquisition that gives value to acquired company – the author might be limiting the transferability of the findings.

Practical implications

These results can be useful for both scholars and practitioners. Managers who face organizational change can consider the adoption and implementation of ERP as an opportunity to influence the evolution of Organizational Identity according to strategic priorities.


The value of this study is in its approach that links a strategic level (the new organizational identity expected by managers) with a social level (the new organizational identity that comes from interaction among people). This link is realized not using the ERP as an artefact but using the process of its adoption and implementation.



De Bernardis, L. (2012), "Social dimension in ERP adoption and implementation: The evolution of Organizational Identity after an M&A", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 156-186.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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