"Omega is a Four-Letter Word": Toward a Tension-Centered Model of Resistance to Information and Communication Technologies

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Abstract:

The adoption of enterprise-wide information and communication technologies (ICTs) has become a growing trend in a wide range of industries. Resistance has been identified as one of the most common reasons for unsuccessful implementations. Assuming technologies as fixed objects, many existing theories tend to reduce resistance to psychological mechanisms or structural misalignment. The purpose of this study is to retheorize resistance to ICTs by integrating a social constructionist perspective of technology and a framework of organizational tensions. By employing qualitative methods, a case study examined the adoption, implementation and use of an enterprise-wide software system in a technology service organization. The in-depth case analysis revealed a tension-centered process model, which shows that resistance to ICTs is constituted in a dynamic, reflexive interplay between the ongoing construction of ICTs and organizational tensions. In this process, an ICT adoption brings into play various organizational tensions, which then shape the interpretations of the ICT in oppositional terms, and reactions to these tensions and oppositional interpretations result in various forms of resistance behaviors. This tension-centered process model offers a useful alternative to existing research on resistance to ICTs in the workplace.
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