Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The control of operations, for example; the flow of materials, the scheduling of production, the planning of capacity – these are central problem in operations management. A substantial body of technique, with attendant technologies, has been developed to facilitate the problem of control of operations. One such technique is Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP). This technique has developed in power and scope in concert with the development of power in computer based technology. From the perspective of the operations management literature, MRP has evolved into MRP II, and now into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). MRP, and MRP II are systems that are embedded within the operations function, and can be controlled legitimately by the operations function; ERP is fundamentally different. ERP systems in their model implementation are enterprise wide, integrated systems. As an enterprise wide system, ERP has created an opportunity to distance the power to influence operations actions from the location of the function. This change has significant implications for the companies adopting the technology, and more specifically, for the profession of operations management. This paper develops a framework of analysis for this change, presents a set of small cases, and discusses some implications that can be drawn from the analysis. The “three arenas of information use – sense making, knowledge creating, and decision making” (Choo 1998, p.3) must be allowed to energize each other and this can only happen if organization wide information systems, such as ERP, respect and empower situated action, enable ambiguity, and allow the use of multiple interpretive frames as managers interact with the situations of operations management.
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