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Adopting and Implementing Enterprise Systems in Chinese SMEs: An ANT Perspective

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Enterprise systems (ES) are a priority in China. The main literature on ES is dominated by survey-based research on large Western firms, which typically focus on the user firm only and on the before-and-after effects of implementation. Analyses using critical success factors and technology adoption theories feature widely. China-based research on ES although growing is relatively limited and is significantly influenced by Western-based approaches. In contrast, this research examines ES adoption and implementation in Chinese SMEs from a continuous, process perspective using 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, the unit of analysis (UOA) is the user-SME and the technology provider combined. The findings challenge the dominant user-centred adoption theories and the importance of the technology provider in the sociotechnical role.