Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology - Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences


Information technology (IT) enabled information systems (IS) are widely used within most organisations today. Since the introduction of IT enabled IS in the 1980’s, there have been numerous reports of problematic and failed implementations. The implementation stage has been emphasised as the stage in the IS life cycle where a large number of issues arise, and the implementation phenomenon has been widely studied. Despite this research focus, there is still not a consensus within the IS research community about what factors lead to implementation failure, and what factors facilitate implementation success. There are many studies that examine the use of IS through models of user behaviour, typically focussing on explaining the variance of a particular variable such as usage frequency. Two such studies raised questions that were important in framing this thesis. Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, G. and Davis, F. (2003) asked whether or not efforts put into understanding factors that contribute to increased usage actually help predict IS success, and to what degree systems considered to have been successfully adopted are actually successful from an organisational perspective. Jasperson, Carter and Zmud (2005) suggested that research should look further than simple dependent variables such as usage, and that uptake of system features might be a better indicator of implementation success. Further, it was suggested that the implementation outcome might be influenced by behaviours and factors that occurred after the installation of IS, and that few models of implementation actually contained a post-adoptive stage. In order to answer these and other questions concerning the implementation of IS within organisations, a longitudinal, qualitative study of the implementation of an enterprise wide IS within an organisation was conducted using the ethnographic methodology of participant observation. The focus of the study was the impact of individual and group behaviour on the implementation success of IS. This focus necessitated exploration of the concept of implementation success, its measurement and how implementation success is perceived throughout an organisation. An important outcome from this study was a Conceptual Model of Information System Implementation within Organisations (CMISIO). The CMISIO, based upon observations from the study, describes implementation as a multi-faceted phenomenon guided within organisational constraints to achieve a pre-determined organisational fit. Organisational fit captures the notion of success, which was seen to vary depending upon the perspective of an observer within the organisation. In this way implementation success was seen to be a multi-faceted phenomenon. The intent of the model was not to reduce the implementation phenomenon to components, but rather to capture those organisational factors that lead to site-specific variations in IS implementation. There were a number of important findings from the study that have relevance for both IS researchers and practitioners. The IS implementation process can take much longer than is widely reported. Studies that only focus upon a part of the process might fail to capture salient factors that are important in the overall implementation outcome. Evidence to support the importance of Jasperson et al.’s (2005) adoption phase, as well as a later phase of adaptation was found. Adaptation, where organisational users adapt the new IS to their particular needs, can take months or years, and a lack of organisational support within this phase can lead to eventual implementation failure. An IS within an organisation is only special for a certain time, and management focus can shift before the implementation process has been completed. The organisational climate that exists at the time of implementation provides constraints that IS project teams must recognise and work within. Elements of the organisation’s culture can also be important factors in understanding motivations behind behaviours that may be either supportive of or detrimental to the implementation. The study found evidence that some behaviours seen as negative towards the IS implementation were likely motivated by psychological reactance (Brehm, 1966), where individuals react to real or perceived threats to their organisational freedom. The reactance was generated by factors not just associated with the IS, and this finding suggests that in order to predict the implementation outcome within an organisation it is necessary to understand factors other than those directly associated with the IS being implemented. Finally, the scientist-practitioner model used within psychology was suggested as a working model that could be used to help integrate the large body of IS research into organisations. The model focuses on the integration of science-based research and day-to-day practice whereby each informs the other through involvement. This proposal addresses a perceived gap between the researchers looking at IS on the one hand and practitioners implementing IS within organisations on the other.