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Actor Network Theory and ES adoption and Implementation: Learning from the expereince of Chinese SMEs

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Abstract

Enterprise systems (ES) are an important element in raising firms’ productivity, and are a priority in China. The main literature on ES is dominated by survey-based research on large Western firm.
The typical focus is on the user firm and how the implementation of ES technology has impacted operations from a before-and-after perspective. Analyses using critical success factors and technology adoption theories feature widely. Despite its global manufacturing importance, Chinabased research on ES is relatively limited and significantly influenced by Western-based approaches. The China context is under-represented. In contrast, this research examines ES
adoption and implementation in Chinese SMEs from a process perspective through four case studies. It argues that ES adoption and implementation is a complex process that involves multiple stakeholders, and exploring the interplay among them explains why and how an ES is adopted and implemented. Actor-network theory (ANT) informs the main analysis. Importantly, and unusually,
the unit of analysis (UOA) is the user-SME and the technology provider combined. The findings challenge the dominant user-centred theories of adoption, the importance of the technology provider in the sociotechnical role and the primacy of actor-networks in the process of adoption and implementation.