quarta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2011

Public e-procurement and the duality of technology: a comparative study in the context of Brazil and of the State of Paraíba

The diffusion of e-commerce technology in the private sector has led public administrations to use the potentialities of information and communication technologies (ICTs), including the redesign of several governmental activities (Cordella, 2007). Managing public purchases, "one of the main areas where the government can be 'reinvented'" (Santos, 2004, p. 150), represents one of the areas that has received a great deal of investments and attention, both in technological terms, aiming to modernize the process, and in juridical-legal terms. In this way, the electronic public process (eprocurement) became widely adopted by organizations, including public administration (PA), seeking to improve the business process (Coulthard & Castleman, 2001; Leukel & Maniatopoulos, 2005).

Although the investments in electronic government and information systems (IS) represent a significant proportion of the organization budget (Mussi & Zwicker, 2009), the literature presents several failure cases (Wilson & Howcroft, 2002; Doherty & King, 2005; Luna-Reyes, Zhang, Gil-Garcia, & Cresswell, 2005; Mussi & Zwicker, 2009); since the end or the objective is given a great deal of consideration, less attention is paid to the means by which and the context in which the introduction will happen. On this account, it is realized that unanticipated organizational impacts are common, which can represent failures or the neglect of the importance of human and contextual aspects (Mussi, 2008). ICTs, including those involved in electronic government, are rarely easily introduced, since they demand complex configuration and customization, according to the context (Badham, 1995). Thus, although the use of e-procurement in PA seems obvious, its development, introduction, and management should not only consider technical and economic factors (Coulthard & Castleman, 2001), since political, social, and organizational factors may also contribute to containing the benefits of the electronic procurement implementation (Henriksen & Mahnke, 2005), restraining the benefits that technology has to offer (Luna-Reyes et al., 2005). In this way, it is apparent that e-procurement may not be understood as a deterministic object, implying that it should not be considered as a simple tool (Kling, 2000). Therefore, this vision retreats from the deterministic way that ICT impacts on organizations, understanding that technology shapes and is socially shaped by organizations. This understanding is useful for comprehending the reasons why the same technology may be implemented, interpreted, and it may generate distinct organizational impacts, even when introduced in similar contexts.

This study adopted the perspective proposed by Orlikowski (1992), the duality of technology, which, even though its utilization in Brazil is not wide (Fell & Rodrigues Filho, 2006, 2007), has attracted a significant number of international papers into the IS area (Jones & Karsten, 2008). The association of the duality of technology approach with the context of the Brazilian public e-procurement brings the possibility of increasing the understanding of the phenomenon and the organizational consequences of adopting this technology, since the consequences of the introduction and use of ICT, which is increasingly common in the public sector, has not yet been appropriately understood (Grönlund, 2002).

This study, therefore, addresses the management of public procurement, focusing on the electronic process used in the context of PA in Brazil and in the State of Paraíba for the acquisition of goods and services using the modality of pregão,a reversed bid auction modality. Besides, this study understands e-procurement technology both as a product and as a means for human actions that, interacting with institutional properties, produces and reproduces the current organizational practices, representing a set of rules and resources built by users in their everyday actions. The objective is to comprehend public e-procurement in Brazil and in the State of Paraíba based on the duality of technology approach, in the context of federal and state public institutions located in João Pessoa, the capital City of the State of Paraíba. From a theoretical viewpoint, this study is justified since it adopts an interpretative perspective (Walsham, 1993, 1995a), outside the dominant rational/technical standard of studies of IS (Avgerou, 2000; Avgerou & McGrath, 2005), electronic government (Heeks & Bailur, 2007; Rodrigues Filho; Mota, 2010), and public e-procurement in Brazil (Sáfadi & Reinhard, 2002; Alves & Dufloth, 2004; Campos, 2008; Galhardo & Côrtes, 2008).
Flávio Perazzo Barbosa Mota; José Rodrigues Filho
JISTEM J.Inf.Syst. Technol. Manag. (Online)
vol.8 no.2 São Paulo 2011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1807-17752011000200003

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