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ERP systems and the coordination of the enterprise

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Purpose ‐ This paper is aimed at shedding some light on the issue of the contribution of ERP systems to the coordination of the activities of the enterprise, an issue which has not been empirically studied very much to date. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Exploratory research has been conducted in a Canadian mail and parcel delivery enterprise on this theme of the contribution of ERP systems to the coordination of activities. The system studied was the R/3 system developed by the firm SAP. Some 16 different work situations, in and between four basic units of the company, were investigated in an ethnographic way. Findings ‐ Various contributions (real or potential) to the coordination of activities were detected for the R/3 system studied. The contribution of R/3 was not, however, systematic. In addition, this contribution was diverse in nature and quite variable in intensity. Research limitations/implications ‐ The results of this research, which was to be exploratory, are not definitive. Other research will be necessary, notably to specify the range of the possible types of contribution in regard to the various work situations that may exist in enterprises. Practical implications ‐ This research confirms the idea that ERP systems can contribute to the coordination of activities in the enterprise. The devices and mechanisms of an organizational nature are definitively not the only means that permit coordination in the enterprise. Originality/value ‐ This paper will make it possible for managers and researchers to better understand the role that ERP systems can play in the coordination and integration of the enterprise.
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Keywords: Business enterprises; Canada; Manufacturing resource planning; Parcel delivery services

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 12, 2007

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