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ERP Systems and Freedom


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Does the implementation and use of ERP systems restricts people's freedom? Is there a future in the current closed model of ERP systems development?

Does the implementation and use of ERP systems restricts people's freedom? Is there a future in the current closed model of ERP systems development?

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  • 1. Week 9 Lecture ERP Systems and Freedom A Class Discussion
  • 2. Introduction
    • There is no silver bullet to the discussions of today and
    • 3. I do not know the answers to the questions we will be discussing today and therefore
    • 4. We are all learning together
  • 5. Introduction
    • Having attended and being a member of many discussions on ERP systems, it seems that all reasons behind ERP implementation have economic an angle. Indeed, looking at issues of business process standardisation across an enterprise, centralised control, routinization , automation, formalisation of business structures, business process re-engineering - all look at the economic aspects of the enterprises. That is, how top management and shareholders would increase their revenue.
  • 6. Introduction
    • ERP systems are innovations that should be at the centre of fostering innovation, creativity and opportunities. However this can only be realised if there is freedom. While there a varied discussions of what constitutes freedom, we restrict our discussions to openness, transparency, collaboration, choice and access.
  • 7. Question 1- Over Dependency?
    • Have you ever asked yourself where the decision making ability of individuals go when they sit in front of a system and tell you "the system as refused?" Is this a manifestation of the dehumanising effects of the excessive control and business process standardization that otherwise rational beings are reduced to indecisive objects?
  • 8. Question 2 – Scientifically everything?
    • We all know that most if not all ERP systems are designed using abstract science and scientific logic. In some cases, these scientific methods may abdicate moral reasoning and rationality of employees. For instance, to arrive at a decision, most scientific approaches use quantitative methods. Does it mean that for all decisions, numbers have to be used? What happens when an individuals working on an ERP systems know that a decision arrived at using the numbers is morally wrong yet they cannot change them?
  • 9. Question 3 – Forced Conformance?
    • Related to the above two, is the forced conformance. All individuals within an organization are forced to act in a certain way all the time. Can we say that one way of killing individual creativity and innovation is the implementation of an ERP?
  • 10. Question 4 – Exercising Freedom?
    • Do you agree with the statement in relation to ERP systems: "The basic human freedoms you take for granted are only as free as the technologies you use."?
  • 11. Questions 5 – Openness and Transparency?
    • Do you think that ERP systems increase or decrease the transparency and openness in organizations?
  • 12. Question 6 - Sustainability?
    • To what extent do you think that the current model, where ERP systems have closed source and centralised development, is sustainable going into the future?
  • 13. Sources
    • Dillard, J. F., Ruchala, L & Yuthas, K. (2005) Enterprise Resource Planning Systems: A Physical Manifestation of Administrative Evil, International Journal of Accounting Information Systems , 6:107-127
    • 14.
  • 15. Think Freedom
      Have a great Software Freedom Day!