Developing New Work from Past Research

This is part 2 of the essay Adaptations of Models in Information Systems: How New Questions are Answered in Research Relying on Established Work. If you have not yet read part 1, click here.

Management researchers frequently rely on prior work to find answers to new research questions, and this section of the essay reviews a recent publication that builds on CMUA. The paper, “ERP Change Management: Technology Preview of an Enterprise System” (hereafter referred to as ERP Preview) is the work of Pamela J. Schmidt who graciously consented to the citation of her paper in this essay (Schmidt 2010b). I became aware of ERP Preview when it was submitted to a workshop on Accounting Information Systems I participated in.


ERP Preview seeks to answer whether improving cognitive appraisal can positively impact user perception of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.  ERP systems are complex and expensive technology, with average adoption cost estimated at 250 Million U.S. Dollars (Olson 2001, p. 60). Furthermore, the radically disruptive change they bring to organizational processes make them susceptible to problems even causing businesses to fail in extreme cases (Olson 2001, p. 64). Because of the high stakes involved with ERP adoption, the timeliness of the topic addressed by this paper makes it highly relevant to management research and the field of MIS.

Summary of Review

While this paper has strong points such as a good literature review and the presentation of a new and interesting theoretical model supported by established work, there are areas which should be revised to make it stronger. For example, a lack of sufficient experiment details makes verification of the work difficult. Additionally, the research appears to have been performed on an educational population which should have been disclosed in the abstract or earlier in the paper.  Third, the paper had a few small grammatical and editorial errors, though it would be unfair to single out this work for criticism as other submissions to this same workshop had similar errors which would are typically corrected before submission to a journal.

Linking the Research to CMUA

The author argues that one contributor to ERP failures is cognitive defense responses by users who anticipate ERP as a threat, an assertion supported by references to other literature and to CMUA. This idea is further developed to suggest that a lack of computer proficiency may also explain why some find ERP threatening (Schmidt 2010a, p. 2-3). The author leans on the CMUA model to hypothesize how typical ERP training which focuses on technical skills alone does not adequately address user adaptation (Schmidt 2010a, p. 4-5).


After reading the work of Beaudry and Pinsonneault on CMUA, I can appreciate the author’s effort to develop answers to a current problem building on an established model. However, I believe there should be more explanation of why a lack of computer proficiency contributes to cognitive defense responses earlier in the paper. Second, a more through explanation of how the ERP Preview is different from traditional ERP training (which the author argues are insufficient) is needed. Both of these changes would help make a stronger argument for the existence of a research gap and for the significance of this work.

Research Methodology

The author’s hypothesis is that user exposure to an ERP Preview will increase proficiency and promote positive cognitive appraisals (Schmidt 2010, p. 8). In contrast to Beaudry and Pinsonneault, this paper uses quantitative analysis to find support for the hypothesis. There is a good research model developed, a clear research statement and four well defined variables. The independent variable is exposure to an ERP Preview, which increases the value of the three dependent variables: job satisfaction, primary and secondary cognitive appraisal.  Questions from previously validated surveys (some of which have been adapted, others used in original form) are used to collect data (Schmidt 2010a, p. 8-15).


Unfortunately the details of the ERP Preview which the subjects were exposed to is not described in sufficient detail to allow confirmation of this work by other researchers (Cassell 2010, p. 37), and design of the quasi-experiment (Cook and Campbell 1979, p. 34) is not sufficently explained to be duplicated without requesting additional details from the author. The survey compares the effect between groups that received varying degrees of ERP Preview treatment, though the details of the grouping and treatments are not provided.

Data Analysis

A thorough statistical analysis of the data is performed using factor analysis to reduce the survey questions into composite variables. These variables were then correlated and tested using structural equation modeling, and the results are reported as being significant and validating the original hypothesis. The presentation of this data is sound and adheres to good practices in statistical methods (Field 2009).


One criticism is the study’s use of academic students in a classroom setting, a fact not disclosed until halfway through the paper. This should be addressed, either by stating at the beginning that it is an educational study, or by making more effort to link the results to a wider context.  

Conclusion

As stated above, the goal of management research is to produce work which is interesting, rigorous and relevant. This essay has presented two papers which attempt to meet these goals. The first paper on CMUA presented a new explanatory model of user responses to technology which was well researched and has subsequently found broad acceptance by researchers and practitioners. The primary purpose in critiquing the paper was to demonstrate how researchers extend the work of others. The use of the CMUA model to address the problem of ERP adoption serves as an interesting example of how prior models can be used to answer new and interesting questions. Additionally, the use of qualitative methods for the development of CMUA and quantitative methods to verify ERP Preview shows a contrast in different approaches to research methods.


References

Bartunek, J., S. Rynes, et al. (2006). "What Makes Management Reseearch Interesting, and Why Does it Matter?" Academy of Management Journal 49(1): 9-15.

Beaudry, A. and A. Pinsonneault (2005). "Understanding User Responses to Information technology: A Coping Model of User Adaptation." MIS Quarterly 29(3): 493-524.

Cassell, C. (2010). Social Research Methods. Study Guide, Manchester Business School

Cassell, C., A. Buehring, et al. (2005). Qualitative Management Research: A Thematic Analysis of Interviews with Stakeholders in the Field. Economic and Social Research Council’s Research Methods Programme.

Cook, T. D. and D. T. Campbell (1979). Quasi-Experimentation: Design & Analysis Issues for Field Settings. Boston, Houghton Mifflin.

Easterby-Smith, M., R. Thorpe, et al. (2009). Management research : an introduction. London, Sage Publications.

Field, A. (2009). Discovering Statistics Using SPSS (Introducing Statistical Methods), Sage Publications Ltd.

Lyytinen, K. and G. M. Rose (2003). "The Disruptive Nature of Information Technology Innovations: The Case of Internet Computing in Systems Development Organizations." MIS Quarterly 27(4): 557-596.

Olson, D. (2001). Managerial Issues of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Pettigrew, A. (2001). "Management Research After Modernism." Academy of Management Journal 12(Special): 61-70.

Schmidt, P. J. (2010a). ERP Change Management: Technology Preview of an Enterprise System. 2nd annual Pre-ICIS Workshop on Accounting Information Systems. St. Louis, MO.

Schmidt, P. J. (2010b). RE: Permission to Cite your Paper? M. L. Curry, Email.

Starkey, K. and P. Madan (2001). "Briding the Relevance Gap: Aligning Stakeholders in the Future of Management Research." British Journal of Management 12(Special): 3-26.

Venkatesh, V., M. G. Morris, et al. (2003). "User Acceptance of Information Technology:  Toward a Unified View." MIS Quarterly 27(3): 425-478.


 
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