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Enochs of the modern workplace: The behaviours by which end users intentionally resist information system implementations

Robert Hugh Campbell (Department of Creative Technologies, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Mark Grimshaw (Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




This paper aims to expose the behaviours through which modern professional people commonly obstruct information system (IS) implementations in their workplace. Users often resist IS implementations, and it has been established that this can cause an implementation to fail. As the initial analysis of an on-going research project, this paper does not yet seek to present IS resistance as a good or a bad thing, it simply identifies and codifies forms of IS resistance.


Inductive interviews with IS implementers threw light on 29 resisted projects across 21 organisations. Interviewees were introduced to established theories of attitude change from social and cognitive psychology then asked to reflect on their experiences of IS implementations using these theories as a lens.


Although it is not claimed that all approaches by which users obstruct IS implementations are identified here, we believe that those most commonly deployed have been uncovered. It is also revealed that such behaviours result from negative user attitudes and that their impact can be significant. They can emotionally or psychologically affect system champions and can often cause implementation projects to fail.

Research limitations/implications

Our method was based on an epistemic assumption that significant understanding is found in the experience and knowledge (tacit and explicit) of IS implementation experts. The paper’s contents are drawn from reflections on a combined 302 years of experience using attitude change psychology as a lens. Using this method, a range of obstructive behaviours was identified. Although it is claimed that the obstructive behaviours most commonly deployed have been unveiled, it is not probable that this list is comprehensive and could be appended to using alternative approaches.

Practical implications

This paper has significant implications for stakeholders in IS implementations. It enables project risks originating from users to be better identified, and it highlights the critical role that negative user attitudes can play in an implementation.

Social implications

This paper considers a common area of conflict in professional organisations, modelling its nature and effect. It also encourages system champions to consider user attitude cultivation as a critical part of any implementation project.


The contribution of this research is twofold. In the arena of user resistance, it is the first to focus on how implementations are resisted and is accordingly the first to identify and taxonomise forms of IS resistance. A contribution is also made to an ongoing literature conversation on the role of attitude in technology acceptance. This paper is the first to focus, not on user attitudes but on how negative attitudes are manifest in behaviour.



Campbell, R.H. and Grimshaw, M. (2015), "Enochs of the modern workplace: The behaviours by which end users intentionally resist information system implementations", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 35-53.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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