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Understanding Integrated Business Software: A Prerequisite for Today’S Digital Firms

Bettina Schneider
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Bettina Schneider: University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland

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Abstract: Today’s companies are supporting their business processes with the help of integrated software packages such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Employees are more than ever empowered to take and execute decisions thanks to information technology. This also includes some challenges: due to the integrated character of ERP systems, business tasks are highly interdependent. Therefore, a profound conceptual understanding of integrated business software is a prerequisite for successful company-wide system usage. As this has not been researched on before, a large qualitative study was conducted in order to analyse how individuals build up their knowledge on ERP systems. Based on the conceptual change theory as well as phenomenography a comprehensive research design was developed. 34 expert and 30 learner interviews were conducted and resulted in five phases of building up an understanding of ERP systems. The main findings are three threshold concepts. In a first stage an ERP system is regarded as a database (database concept). In further stages there is an understanding of ERP software as an electronic reproduction of a company (reproduction concept). In addition, an awareness of the technical interfaces provided in the system’s background emerges (interface concept). The model makes a contribution to both companies and higher education institutions. New insights into understandings of ERP systems help to increase the quality of existing and new teaching programmes. Qualified employees are in the end a prerequisite for the successful management of today’s digital firms.

Keywords: enterprise resource planning; integrated business software; threshold concepts; phenomenography; conceptual understanding; higher education; professional training (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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