Subverting organizational IS policy with feral systems : a case in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

17 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-588
Journal / PublicationIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate how selected employees in China deliberately subvert organizational information systems (IS) policy by developing feral working practices in order to gain access to the applications that they believe essential to work.
Design/methodology/approach - Interpretive case study. Findings: Employees cannot accept the limited IT policy/environment imposed by corporate management and develop their own workarounds that subvert the organizational IT policy so as to ensure that they can get work done.

Research limitations/implications - The authors draw on elements of punctuated equilibrium theory to conceptualize the findings into four theoretical propositions. The authors encourage researchers to probe these organizational practices and solutions in depth.

Practical implications - Organizations cannot expect their digital native employees to leave their social media culture at home when they come to work. Social media penetrates all aspects of their lives and in all locations. Therefore, organizations must find a way to permit its use at work.

Originality/value - Subversion is a topic rarely studied in IS research, or in business/management more generally. The focus on the subversive behavior of organizational employees is original and important. The authors suggest that subversive behavior may be more common than the limited literature suggests.

Research Area(s)

  • Feral systems, IS governance, Punctuated equilibrium theory, Subversion