Institutionalizing enterprise resource planning in the Saudi steel industry: A punctuated socio-technical analysis

Kalle Lyytinen, Mike Newman, Abdul Rahman A Al-Muharfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we analyze institutionalization as a process of transferring and stabilizing material artifacts and routines in the form of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Although past studies have analyzed institutionalization as structuring around scripts or discourse moves, we emphasize the material role of artifacts and routines as carriers of institutional logics. In addition, insitutionalization is not linear and incremental, but goes through sudden, nonlinear disruptions. To this end, we apply punctuated socio-technical information system change (PSIC) model that draws upon Gersick's model of change to identify and trace moves that are critical during the institutionalization. The model accounts for ERP institutionalization by chronicling complex interactions between socio-technical elements in the implementation system, the work system, and organizational and environmental context which together account for the institutionalization outcome. We use the model to analyze a longitudinal case covering 11 years (1993-2004) of ERP implementation processes in a large Saudi steel firm. Our analysis shows that the proposed material and punctuated lens toward institutionalization offers rich insights how and why ERP systems become institutions and why their institutionalization is difficult and unfolds in unpredictable ways. We conclude that the normally held assumptions of successful linear and incremental adaptation to new institutional patterns logics out by ERP systems do not hold. © 2009 JIT Palgrave Macmillan All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-304
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • ERP systems
  • Institutional theory
  • Longitudinal case study
  • Process models
  • Punctuated equilibrium
  • Socio-technical change


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