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User empowerment : an enabler of enterprise systems success

By Rashi Sehgal


This research project has established a new measurement model for User Empowerment as an enabler to Enterprise Systems 1 success. This study was inspired by the reported relationship between Empowerment and improved work outcomes. From this, it was hypothesised that empowering the users of Enterprise Systems during the implementation process would improve the reports of post implementation system success. A new related concept of system oriented User Empowerment was conceived. The outcomes of empowering users (increased worker effectiveness; (increased work satisfaction) conceptually resonates very closely to the outcomes of individual performance, quality of system outputs, goodness of system functionality and, on a broader level, effective use of the system to yield successful business outcomes. These latter outcomes represent the measures of Enterprise Systems success. Thus Empowerment as an independent variable, and Enterprise Systems success as a dependent variable, provided a launching platform for the study. The research model was built upon the existing research into Empowerment as articulated by Spreitzer (Spreitzer, 1996) and Thomas and Velthouse (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990) and its derived systems related construct of User Empowerment, first explored by Doll, Deng and Metts (Doll, Deng, & Metts, 2003). It used a current and validated measure of Enterprise Systems Success as developed by Gable, Sedera and Chan (Gable, Sedera, & Chan, 2003); this measure is a refinement of the Information Systems Success Model of DeLone and McLean (DeLone & McLean, 2002). 2 In order to test the relationships of Empowerment to (Enterprise) System success, the following research sub-problems were explored: * What types of Empowerment are relevant in the Enterprise System context? * Is User Empowerment different from Psychological Empowerment and if so, how? * What is the relationship between Psychological Empowerment and User Empowerment? * How can User Empowerment be measured? * What is the effect of Psychological Empowerment on Enterprise Systems success? * What is the effect of User Empowerment on Enterprise Systems success? This research project was a PhD study funded by the Australian Research Council through an industry linkage program. The industry partner in this project was SAP - the most successful vendor of Enterprise Systems. Although limited in analysis the study spanned across two industry sectors, with two Enterprise Systems (Oracle and SAP). This research was a multimethod study and involved both qualitative and quantitative phases. The multimethod included content analysis, survey, and case study. This research was led by an explorative research strategy and paid considerable attention to analysing each research method in relation to other research methods, and also in relation to the demands of the research problem. A comprehensive literature review established extant definitions and constructs for Psychological Empowerment, User Empowerment and, Enterprise Systems success. The literature review employed a formal qualitative research method, using open coding supported through the use of Nvivo, a Qualitative software package, in order to identify and derive key themes in the referent disciplines. The responses from the email survey of Information Systems researchers, and Enterprise Systems consultants were triangulated with the findings from the categorised literature review on Empowerment. This sub-study utilised WordStat software and the findings were presented at the QualIT conference (Sehgal & Stewart, 2006). Drawing from the existing perspectives on Empowerment a contextbased perspective on Empowerment was proposed by the researcher. From this work, a new working definition of (User) Empowerment was derived. This construct proposed that User Empowerment involved Computer Self-efficacy, Perceived Usefulness, Intrinsic Motivation, User Autonomy, and Problem-solving and Decision support. Psychological Empowerment involves Meaning, Self-determination, Competence, and Impact. The research project then empirically tested the relationship of both Psychological Empowerment and User Empowerment to Enterprise Systems success using a quantitative enquiry. The new User Empowerment construct was statistically tested for validity and reliability. This quantitative study found no statistical evidence for a relationship between Psychological Empowerment and Enterprise Systems success. The study findings suggest significant statistical evidence for a relationship between User Empowerment and Enterprise Systems success. Statistical analysis showed that the construct for User Empowerment was different from the construct of Enterprise Systems success. These relationships held regardless of the level of the user: senior management, operational, end users or technical. This phase of the study was presented at the Americas Conference of Information Systems (Sehgal & Stewart, 2004). This exploratory survey was followed by another industry based case study, which confirmed the results for a different industry sector and different Enterprise System. This latter study was used in an independent confirmatory factor analysis of the Enterprise Systems success measurement which was presented at the Americas Conference on Information Systems (Sehgal & Stewart, 2004) and International Conference on Information Systems (Sedera, Gable, & Chan, 2004) by fellow researchers. This research has demonstrated that User Empowerment, rather than Psychological Empowerment was significantly related to Enterprise Systems Success. The study findings identified potentially significant benefits to the Enterprise System implementing organisations as well as the Enterprise System vendor from empowering Enterprise System users. Of the reported benefits one of the relevant one was improved and positive reports about the implemented Enterprise System. Further, the study highlights the importance of context when measuring a construct such as Empowerment. There are clear practical implications for the research outcomes. These include a recommendation that training programs should ensure that users have a high degree of computer self-efficacy when using the enterprise system. The validated User Empowerment instrument will be utilised as a diagnostic tool for organisational readiness prior to an ES implementation. This would assist in benchmarking the level of empowerment and predicted Enterprise Systems success. Future research will explore the effects of an Enterprise System on the components of User Empowerment as it is conjectured that there is a reciprocal relationship between the system and user attributes of Computer Self-efficacy, Problem-solving Decision Support, and understanding of business logic

Topics: user empowerment, enterprise systems success, enterprise systems, empowerment, user autonomy, system-oriented user empowerment, enabler of enterprise systems success
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2007
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