Alignment in enterprise systems implementations: the role of ontological distance

Michael Rosemann, Ron A.G. Weber, Iris Vessey

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    The development, implementation, operation, support, maintenance, and upgrade of enterprise systems (ES) have given rise to a multibillion dollar industry. Nonetheless, this industry has been perceived as having difficulties in achieving an adequate return on investment. We believe that a major reason why organizations encounter problems is that they fail to understand properly how well an ES package aligns with or fits their needs. Misfits are external manifestations of the differences between two worlds: that of the organization’s needs on the one hand and the system’s capabilities on the other. To address issues of fit in ES package implementation, we need a way to describe and evaluate fit. To achieve this end, we use the concept of ontological distance. Specifically, we provide an approach to evaluate the significance (size) of a gap between the world of organizational requirements and the world of system capabilities. The greater the distance between the organizational world and system world, the more likely we believe that organizations will encounter difficulties in their engagement with an ES package. Distances arising from the joint evolution of organizational requirements and system capabilities occur at a number of stages during the process of implementing an ES. From a theoretical perspective, our conceptual development shows how measures of ontological distance can be used to predict the likely deficiencies an organization will have on implementing an enterprise system. From a practical perspective, our research helps organizations to avoid problems when implementing an enterprise system and to select the best package for the organization’s needs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Twenty-Fifth International Conference on Information Systems
    EditorsRitu Agarwal, Laurie Kirsch, Janice I DeGross
    Place of PublicationAtlanta USA
    PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    EventInternational Conference on Information Systems 2004 - Washington, United States of America
    Duration: 12 Dec 200415 Dec 2004
    Conference number: 25th (Proceedings)


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Information Systems 2004
    Abbreviated titleICIS 2004
    Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
    Internet address


    • alignment
    • Enterprise systems
    • ontology

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