Free/Open Source ERP and Translation Processes: Four Empirical Cases
Can ERP be studied from the point of view of Science and Technology Studies? What kind of insights this approach can bring to the comprehension of the phenomenon? These are the questions we are trying to answer with this paper. In the Information Systems field, ERP have been studied according to three main approaches: ethnomethodology, phenomenology, and deconstructivism. We show how these accounts are not able to describe ERP as complex artifacts.
We suggest that an actor — network theory approach, without making a priori assumptions about the role that technology, society, politics and economics can enact, is a powerful theoretical instrument in the study of ERP. Drawing from a comparative analysis of four systems (Compiere, Erp5, GNUe and Open for Business), we show how the choice of a free/open source license was made according to different goals, and entered in the translation processes taking place in the ERP development; shaping communities, customers and developers.
In conclusion, we believe that our approach can be fruitfully applied to the study of other topics connected to ERP, such as accountability, thanks to its ability to show how the different aspects are relationally shaped.
KeywordsTranslation Process Free Software Software License Enterprise Information System Open Source Community
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