IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Early Diagnosis of MIS Implementation Failure: Promising Results and Unanswered Questions


  • Michael J. Ginzberg

    (New York University)


Much of the research on MIS implementation which has been conducted in the past decade has focused on identifying and measuring the organizational characteristics which appear to be particularly conducive to either success or failure of system development efforts. While such research is useful in providing insight about the implementation problem, it provides little guidance for the management of ongoing implementation efforts. The study described in this paper attempts to address the implementation management question by exploring the use of MIS users' pre-implementation expectations about a system as indicators of the likely success of that system. System development efforts can be viewed as multi-stage processes. During the first of the stages, Definition, most of the key decisions about the system as the user will see it are made, e.g., system goals, scope, overall approach. The Definition stage, however, typically accounts for no more than 25% of the resources required for system development. Thus, the decisions which will have the greatest effect on the users' acceptance or rejection of a system are made prior to the bulk of spending on the project, and an assessment of the project's probability of success or failure should be possible at that time. The results of a number of implementation studies suggest that implementation failure is more likely when users hold unrealistic expectations about a system. Research in other areas, especially product evaluation and job satisfaction, also shows a connection between realism of expectations and outcomes (e.g., satisfaction). Thus, user expectations held at the end of the Definition stage might serve as early warning indicators of MIS implementation outcomes. If these expectations prove to be reliable indicators of subsequent success or failure, it would enable system developers to diagnose likely problems and to take corrective action at an early project stage. This paper reports on a longitudinal study of user expectations as predictors of project success or failure. The results strongly suggest that users who hold realistic expectations prior to implementation are more satisfied with the system and use it more than users whose pre-implementation expectations are unrealistic. While the results are encouraging, further research is necessary in a number of areas---e.g., better definition of key expectations, simpler tools for measuring expectations, proper timing of expectations measurement---before reliable instruments for measuring expectations in ongoing projects will be available. The paper outlines, however, some steps which can be taken now to help assure that potential system users develop realistic expectations.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael J. Ginzberg, 1981. "Early Diagnosis of MIS Implementation Failure: Promising Results and Unanswered Questions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(4), pages 459-478, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:27:y:1981:i:4:p:459-478
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.27.4.459

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Uwe Dulleck & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Alexander Konovalov, 2014. "Too much or too little? Price-discrimination in a market for credence goods," Working Papers 2014-13, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    2. Gelderman, M., 1995. "Factors affecting the success of management support systems: analysis and meta-analysis," Serie Research Memoranda 0020, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    3. Jong Uk Kim & Rajiv Kishore, 2019. "Do we Fully Understand Information Systems Failure? An Exploratory Study of the Cognitive Schema of IS Professionals," Information Systems Frontiers, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 1385-1419, December.
    4. Eom, S. B., 1995. "Decision support systems research: Reference disciplines and a cumulative tradition," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 511-523, October.
    5. J-R Córdoba & G Midgley, 2006. "Broadening the boundaries: an application of critical systems thinking to IS planning in Colombia," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 57(9), pages 1064-1080, September.
    6. Rajiv D. Banker & Robert J. Kauffman, 2004. "50th Anniversary Article: The Evolution of Research on Information Systems: A Fiftieth-Year Survey of the Literature in Management Science," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(3), pages 281-298, March.
    7. Au, Norman & Ngai, Eric W. T. & Cheng, T. C. Edwin, 2002. "A critical review of end-user information system satisfaction research and a new research framework," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 451-478, December.
    8. Susan A. Brown & Viswanath Venkatesh & Sandeep Goyal, 2012. "Expectation Confirmation in Technology Use," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 23(2), pages 474-487, June.
    9. Andrew Burton-Jones & Detmar W. Straub, 2006. "Reconceptualizing System Usage: An Approach and Empirical Test," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 17(3), pages 228-246, September.
    10. Brown, Susan A. & Venkatesh, Viswanath & Kuruzovich, Jason & Massey, Anne P., 2008. "Expectation confirmation: An examination of three competing models," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 52-66, January.
    11. Joost M.E. Pennings & Scott H. Irwin & Darrel L. Good & Olga Isengildina, 2005. "Heterogeneity in the likelihood of market advisory service use by U.S. crop producers," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 109-128.
    12. Thomas J. Holmes & David K. Levine & James A. Schmitz, 2012. "Monopoly and the Incentive to Innovate When Adoption Involves Switchover Disruptions," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 1-33, August.
    13. Dana Costea & Ganesh Vaidyanthan, 2013. "A Measure of Perceived Usefulness in the Pre-Implementation Stages of Healthcare Projects," Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics and Information Technology,, vol. 3(1), pages 1-2, February.
    14. Russell L. Purvis & V. Sambamurthy & Robert W. Zmud, 2001. "The Assimilation of Knowledge Platforms in Organizations: An Empirical Investigation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(2), pages 117-135, April.
    15. Gelderman, Maarten, 1997. "Task difficulty, task variability and satisfaction with management support systems: consequences and solutions ˜," Serie Research Memoranda 0053, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    16. Mabert, Vincent A. & Soni, Ashok & Venkataramanan, M. A., 2003. "Enterprise resource planning: Managing the implementation process," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 302-314, April.
    17. Berhanu Borena & Solomon Negash, 2016. "IT Infrastructure Role in the Success of a Banking System: The Case of Limited Broadband Access," Information Technology for Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(2), pages 265-278, April.
    18. Mohammad Anisur Rahman & Xu Qi & Mohammad Shahfayet Jinnah, 2016. "Factors affecting the adoption of HRIS by the Bangladeshi banking and financial sector," Cogent Business & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 1262107-126, December.

    More about this item


    management science implementation;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:27:y:1981:i:4:p:459-478. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Matthew Walls). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.