Adopted globally but unusable locally: What workarounds reveal about adoption, resistance, compliance and non-compliance

R.M. Davison, L.H.M. Wong, Steven Alter, Carol Ou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


We undertake an exploratory case study to investigate how warehouse employees work around an Enterprise Resource Planning software that cannot be used as designed due to work practices required by local conditions. Our research illustrates how long-standing approaches to studying IS innovation,
adoption and diffusion in relation to fixed IT artefacts say little or nothing about important phenomena and practical issues. We draw on theories of work systems and IT innovation, adoption and adaptation to explain both why workarounds are required and how they are enacted. Our context involves the local Hong Kong operations of a global retailer of home textiles. Our 29 interviews at the site reveal many perspectives about how an inadequate information system failed to support essential work practices and how employees at the site responded by creating shadow IS that helped them pursue their business responsibilities and objectives. We draw on a compliance view of technology use to suggest that unreflective compliance can be counterproductive; paradoxically, reflective non-compliance may bring
greater benefit to both the organisation and its customers. We conclude with nine implications of our findings for practitioners and for researchers interested in IS innovation, adoption, and diffusion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 27th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS)
Place of PublicationStockholm, Sweden
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event27th European Conference on Information Systems: Information Systems for a Sharing Society - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 8 Jun 201914 Jun 2019


Conference27th European Conference on Information Systems
Abbreviated titleECIS2019


  • workarounds
  • compliance
  • IT governance
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • shadow IS


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