Thursday, July 31, 2014

Feral systems

Over the past few days, I've been working on a supplement to my research proposal. I started by searching Google Scholar with the string "ERP management", looking for recent (post 2010) papers. This probably led me to an organisation with which I was not familiar - the International Conference on Enterprise Systems, Accounting and Logistics, aka ICESAL. There were some interesting papers to be found there, mainly about management accounting. This isn't really what I am looking for, but reading some of those papers led me to other papers and eventually I found gold.

I stumbled upon a paper entitled "Post ERP feral system and use of feral system as coping mechanism" [sic - yes, there are no articles used in the title] which upon reading seemed very similar to my research, at least on a theoretical level. On a practical level, it is completely different, which is actually a good thing. I could use the theoretical basis of this paper as justification for mine. The research on which the paper is based was conducted in Malaysia, with two large organisations using SAP, with the data being collected by interviews. One is allowed in doctoral research to take someone else's research and apply it in a different area: mine will be in Israel with many respondents using Priority, with the data being collected by questionnaires. 

Once I had this paper - and I wrote a long discussion about it - I was able to start researching 'feral systems' which led me to some very interesting papers, all of them published within the past few years. In some of them, I found arguments explaining why such systems are frowned upon - exactly what was required.

What is a feral system, I hear you ask. One paper which I quoted defines feral systems as being "the usage of information technology that deviates from the standard organisational norms and which exists beyond the control and/or knowledge of the organisational IT management". Perfect. This is actually a wider scope than I had envisaged,  but if the shoe fits....

The material which I present in the supplement is intended only to satisfy the research committee: I don't think that it will affect my hypotheses. On the other hand, I'll have plenty of literature to write about. I noticed that I was much more critical of the literature for this supplement; when I write "critical", I mean "able to discuss the paper by showing its good points and also what has not been mentioned". The literature review for the thesis has to be critical so it's good that I'm developing these skills now.

I have sent a draft of the supplement to my mentor but I don't expect a response for the next few days.

I wondered why I hadn't found any of this material for my original literature search, which in a sense lasted two years. The main reason, I think, is that once I had found the term "end user computing", I used it almost extensively in my searches, and didn't try looking for anything else. Also, I admit that my literature search was somewhat directed: I would search for a specific subject and once found, I would move on. There wasn't much room for serendipity.

This time, I tried a new search string which did indeed lead me to something different.

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