Software and Organisations

The Biography of the Enterprise-Wide System or How SAP Conquered the World

By Neil Pollock, Robin Williams

© 2008 – Routledge

368 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415521604
pub: 2012-04-05
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415403979
pub: 2008-08-14
US Dollars$160.00

About the Book

This is the first book that addresses the genesis and career of the modern day enterprise system in a comprehensive and robust manner. It does so through setting out a new approach for the study of packaged solutions and presents novel empirical studies based on in-depth ethnographic and longitudinal research conducted within supplier organisations and other relevant sites. The authors shift the debate within the social study of information systems, from one that is primarily focused on ‘implementation studies’, to one that follows software as it evolves, matures and crosses organisational boundaries. Through tracing and comparing the ‘biography’ of a number of software systems the authors develop a new vocabulary for the dynamics that surround standardised software.

Original in its approach, this book draws on a number of ethnographic studies in supplier organisations, user settings, user forums, and applies theories from the Sociology of Technology, Technology Studies, Innovation Studies, and beyond. As such it will be of interest across all of these subject areas and to researchers from the wider fields of Information Systems and Business Studies.


"The book Pollock and Williams have written is an outstanding achievement and lasting signpost to future research." - Economic & Social Research Council

"Software and Organizations is a great academic work, theoretically insightful and empirically potent and compelling. In many respects, the volume could be interpreted as signalling the maturation of the cross-disciplinary field of technology and organization studies…A contribution like the one Pollock and Williams have made has long been wanted."- Jannis Kallinikos, Organization Studies

"The brilliant empirical chapters joined with in-depth engagement with the literature leave little to disagree with in Software and Organizations…Indeed, one is tempted to say that it may well show the way to the next wave of technology studies." - Sampsa Hyysalo, Social Studies of Science

"The authors convincingly propose a new analytical template, the Biography of Artefacts (BoA) framework, and align themselves with the so-called ‘third wave’ in Science and Technology Studies…The BoA framework constitutes the epitome of analytical advancements in the study of IT in organisations, over a period of more than 20 years by Edinburgh-based scholars." - Antonios Kaniadakis, Science Studies

"Software and Organizations makes an excellent and timely contribution to the literature and is an impressive piece of research…As STS scholars, Pollock and Williams’ accomplishment is their commendable theorisation of the relations between technology and society." - Debra Howcroft, New Technology Work & Employment

Table of Contents


1. The Dynamics of Software Packages

2. Critique of Existing Knowledge

3. The Biography of Artefacts Framework

4. Fitting Standard Software to Non-Standard Organisations

5. Generification Work in the Design of Global Solutions

6. Technology Choice and its Performance: Towards a Sociology of Software Package Procurement

7. Industry Analysts and the Labour of Comparison

8. Passing the User: Searching for Expertise in Globalised Technical Support

9. Discussion and Conclusions

About the Authors

Neil Pollock is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches and researches on the sociology of information technologies.

Robin Williams is Professor of Social Research on Technology and Director at the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation at the University of Edinburgh.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Technology, Work and Organizations

The books in the series offer groundings in central elements of the management of technology and innovation. They provide stimulating treatments of key themes which form part of the Management of Technology and/or Innovation syllabus and are primarily aimed at advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and lecturing and research staff. The books explain, develop and critically explore issues and concepts on the assumption that students and staff already have a basic understanding of the area. All the books in the series incorporate a combination of this review of the current state of knowledge in a particular aspect of the management of technology/innovation with the presentation and discussion of new primary material not previously published.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Information Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Behavior
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General