Boudreau & Robey (2005) Enacting Integrated Information Technology: A Human Agency Perspective

Boudreau, Marie-Claude and Robey, D.


Recent perspectives on organizational change have emphasized human agency, more than technology or structure, to explain empirical outcomes resulting from the use of information technologies in organizations. Yet, newer technologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems continue to be associated with the agenda of organizational transformation, largely because they are assumed to constrain human action. We report an interpretive case study of an ERP system after its implementation in a large government agency. Despite the transformation agenda accompanying the new system, users initially chose to avoid using it as much as possible (inertia) and later to work around system constraints in unintended ways (reinvention). We explain the change in enactments with the concept of improvised learning, which was motivated by social influence from project leaders, “power users,” and peers. Our results are consistent with arguments regarding the enactment of information technology in organizations and with temporal views of human agency. We conclude that an integrated technology like ERP, which potentially represents a “hard” constraint on human agency, can be resisted and reinvented in use.

Citation Marie-Claude Boudreau, D. Robey (2005). Enacting Integrated Information Technology: A Human Agency Perspective. Organization Science, vol. 16 no. 1, pp. 3–18. URL

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

author = {Boudreau, Marie-Claude and Robey, D.},
doi = {10.1287/orsc.1040.0103},
isbn = {1741039091094},
issn = {1047-7039},
journal = {Organization Science},
number = {1},
pages = {3--18},
pmid = {16285247},
title = {{Enacting Integrated Information Technology: A Human Agency Perspective}},
url = {},
volume = {16},
year = {2005}

Key ideas


Design Science, Human agency, Improvised learning, Information technology, Organizational change