Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 23 Number 1 2006 pp. 51-86

Understanding Business Process Change Failure: An Actor-Network Perspective

Sarker, Suprateek, Sarker, Saonee, and Sidorova, Anna

ABSTRACT: In this paper, we use concepts from actor-network theory (ANT) to interpret the sequence of events that led to business process change (BPC) failure at a telecommunications company in the United States. Through our intensive examination of the BPC initiative, we find that a number of issues suggested by ANT, such as errors in problematization, parallel translation, betrayal, and irreversible inscription of interests, contributed significantly to the failure. We provide nine abstraction statements capturing the essence of our findings in a concrete form. The larger implication of our study is that, for sociotechnical phenomena such as BPC with significant political components, an ANT-informed understanding can enable practitioners to better anticipate and cope with emergent complexities.

Key words and phrases: actor-network theory, business process change, case study, information systems implementation, information systems politics, interpretive research, organizational change, power, reengineering, social construction of technology