Managing enterprise resource planning and multi-organisational enterprise governance
: a new contingency framework for the enterprisation of operations

  • Yi Wan

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


This research has been undertaken to determine how successful multi-organisational enterprise strategy is reliant on the correct type of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) information systems being used. However there appears to be a dearth of research as regards strategic alignment between ERP systems development and multi-organisational enterprise governance as guidelines and frameworks to assist practitioners in making decision for multi-organisational collaboration supported by different types of ERP systems are still missing from theoretical and empirical perspectives. This calls for this research which investigates ERP systems development and emerging practices in the management of multi-organisational enterprises (i.e. parts of companies working with parts of other companies to deliver complex product-service systems) and identify how different ERP systems fit into different multi-organisational enterprise structures, in order to achieve sustainable competitive success.
An empirical inductive study was conducted using the Grounded Theory-based methodological approach based on successful manufacturing and service companies in the UK and China. This involved an initial pre-study literature review, data collection via 48 semi-structured interviews with 8 companies delivering complex products and services across organisational boundaries whilst adopting ERP systems to support their collaborative business strategies – 4 cases cover printing, semiconductor manufacturing, and parcel distribution industries in the UK and 4 cases cover crane manufacturing, concrete production, and banking industries in China in order to form a set of 29 tentative propositions that have been validated via a questionnaire receiving 116 responses from 16 companies. The research has resulted in the consolidation of the validated propositions into a novel concept referred to as the ‘Dynamic Enterprise Reference Grid for ERP’ (DERG-ERP) which draws from multiple theoretical perspectives.
The core of the DERG-ERP concept is a contingency management framework which indicates that different multi-organisational enterprise paradigms and the supporting ERP information systems are not the result of different strategies, but are best considered part of a strategic continuum with the same overall business purpose of multi-organisational cooperation. At different times and circumstances in a partnership lifecycle firms may prefer particular multi-organisational enterprise structures and the use of different types of ERP systems to satisfy business requirements. Thus the DERG-ERP concept helps decision makers in selecting, managing and co-developing the most appropriate multi-organistional enterprise strategy and its corresponding ERP systems by drawing on core competence, expected competitiveness, and information systems strategic capabilities as the main contingency factors. Specifically, this research suggests that traditional ERP(I) systems are associated with Vertically Integrated Enterprise (VIE); whilst ERPIIsystems can be correlated to Extended Enterprise (EE) requirements and ERPIII systems can best support the operations of Virtual Enterprise (VE).
The contribution of this thesis is threefold. Firstly, this work contributes to a gap in the extant literature about the best fit between ERP system types and multi-organisational enterprise structure types; and proposes a new contingency framework – the DERG-ERP, which can be used to explain how and why enterprise managers need to change and adapt their ERP information systems in response to changing business and operational requirements. Secondly, with respect to a priori theoretical models, the new DERG-ERP has furthered multi-organisational enterprise management thinking by incorporating information system strategy, rather than purely focusing on strategy, structural, and operational aspects of enterprise design and management. Simultaneously, the DERG-ERP makes theoretical contributions to the current IS Strategy Formulation Model which does not explicitly address multi-organisational enterprise governance. Thirdly, this research clarifies and emphasises the new concept and ideas of future ERP systems (referred to as ERPIII) that are inadequately covered in the extant literature. The novel DERG-ERP concept and its elements have also been applied to 8 empirical cases to serve as a practical guide for ERP vendors, information systems management, and operations managers hoping to grow and sustain their competitive advantage with respect to effective enterprise strategy, enterprise structures, and ERP systems use; referred to in this thesis as the “enterprisation of operations”.
Date of Award25 Jan 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorBen Clegg (Supervisor) & Prasanta Dey (Supervisor)


  • enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • management of multi-organisational enterprise
  • operations strategy
  • multi-organisational collaboration
  • grounded theory-based methodology
  • contingency framework

Cite this