Local adaptations of generic application systems: The case of Veiling Holambra in Brazil
Journal of Information Technology , Volume 21 - Issue 2 p. 73- 85
This paper focuses on local adaptations, referring to the significant or subtle changes local firms make in their local business processes and rules in order to fit with a generic application system, and to the changes they make in the features of a generic application system. Local adaptations are therefore bidirectional in nature. Although several studies stress the importance of local adaptations for the overall success of information technologies (IT) used across locations, more research is needed regarding what kind of local adaptations are required for a particular generic application system to work well in particular localities. The nature and extent of local adaptations are still poorly understood. This paper provides a concrete illustration of a historically situated local adaptation: the case of Veiling Holambra. This Brazilian cooperative has imported a generic auction marketplace model from Holland and adapted it to local conditions, to succeed in a globalized and competitive flower market. Using concepts drawn from studies on globalization, cross-cultural implementations, and IT-based organizational change literature, we put forward three propositions that help to explain the success of local adaptations. The results of our case study indicate that the immigration of Dutch people was critical for bringing knowledge of cooperative structure and flower production to Holambra and led to a relatively small design-use gap. The ability to take local, contextual requirements into account without neglecting the 'generic' knowledge led to the successful implementation of the generic auction model. This mutual influence was particularly enabled by the Brazilian culture of improvization.