The Instrumental Genesis of Collective Activity. The Case of an ERP Implementation in a Large Electricity Producer
Collective activity should be a focal subject to study organizational dynamics, particularly in relation with the implementation of management systems such as ERPs. Collective activity is analyzed here as an ongoing dialogical construction by actors. It is always mediated by signs and particularly by instruments. To design and adapt collective activity, a reflexive dialogical exchange between actors, a “collective activity about collective activity”, mediated by instruments, is necessary: we call it “the instrumental genesis of collective activity”. We analyze the case of an ERP implementation at EDF, a large electricity company, in the purchase and procurement area of the production division. The design and implementation of the new system was not clearly viewed as the instrumental genesis of collective activity. Difficulties appeared particularly for cross-functional cooperation and for the construction of new professional profiles of competence. In the light of this case, we suggest that key conditions for the intelligibility and the actionability of collective activity are the establishment of communities and the hybridization of professional competences.
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