Lasting organization: Tracing alterations in ERP systems beyond the fantasy brochure
Accounting and Management Control
Speaker : Claire Dambrin
HEC Campus - Build.T - Room T020
This paper highlights how technical devices last in organizations. We build on a ten-year, in-depth longitudinal case study examining a CRM package, a type of ERP system specialized in customer relationship management, in a door-drop advertising company. Instead of focusing on the usual implementation phases, we explore what happens to technical devices during quiet periods, when they make themselves invisible. Drawing on Latour’s conceptualization of technical objects as beings in tension subject to certain conditions of felicity (Latour, 2012), we highlight alterations in the CRM system to show how apparently stable devices keep on changing. We identify two dynamics of alteration: shedding of elements by the CRM system, signalling that it has moved beyond its fantasy brochure; and its accounting ramifications that enact lateral and cross-functional control, emphasizing how accounting can be regenerative. We construct “lasting” as a matter of both renunciation and regeneration and argue that regeneration is enacted when the capabilities of the technical device and the capabilities of its users meet. These results contribute to the accounting literature on the ontology of change by providing information as to how “drift” dynamics are enacted (Quattrone & Hopper, 2001; 2006). We also aim to contribute to the sociology of translation, through adoption of a less dualistic perspective on the “conditions of felicity” of technological beings, moving from usefulness/uselessness dichotomies to involve possibilities of latency.