Circuits of Power Approach to Leading GISenabled Business Process Reengineering: The Case of Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company
Asaad Taher, Nader
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Geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly used by utility companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As GIS have the potential to improve organizational performance at both the operational and strategic levels, many utilities are pursuing so-called “Enterprise GIS” initiatives. GIS-enabled business process automation and reengineering initiatives are based on a vision whereby GIS are used throughout an organization to support all business processes. Unfortunately, the integration of GIS into individual and organizational processes often encounters user resistance. This study reviews the literature on change management, business process reengineering (BPR), and user resistance to information systems (IS) to understand the individual and organizational factors behind user resistance to GIS-enabled BPR and automation initiatives. Organizational factors include lack of organizational maturity, conflict between organizational traditions and ideologies, and poor communication. Individual factors include lack of technical skills among employees, lack of perceived benefits, fear of losing power, and the absence of project sponsorship. The study then measures the integration of the clearance management application (CMA) at Abu Dhabi Sewerage Service Company (ADSSC). Here, integration is understood as the degree to which GIS-enabled BPR and automation initiatives have become institutionalized in an organization and represent daily routines by which end-users run their operations. The study then applies the latest thinking on leadership, change management, and project management to propose 17 interventions specific to the UAE public sector context aimed at mitigating organizational and individual resistance factors. The results reveal a statistically significant increase in the degree of CMA integration at ADSSC after the suggested interventions are implemented. In theoretical terms, this research extends the circuit of power framework (CoP) to comprehend organizational and individual resistance factors and then proposes a new framework. This research also offers some practical recommendations to ADSSC management and other practitioners about managing future GIS-enabled BPR initiatives. Since power and authority are found to be very important elements of UAE culture, the author suggests that future research examine the framework proposed by this dissertation. The author also recommends a further examination of the role of power in implementing organizational change in the UAE context. Third, the author suggests that future research seek to understand how technology-driven initiatives can impact old- and new-generation employees in the UAE public sector.