Heroes, Contracts, Cooperation, and Processes: Changes in Collaboration in a Large Enterprise Systems Project

Kari Smolander, Matti Rossi, Samuli Pekkola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
132 Downloads (Pure)


Enterprise systems are developed and tailored in large, long-term projects, sometimes spanning for decades, whereby a network of parties comprising customer and developer organizations, subcontractors, and consultants work together to deliver a successful system. This collaboration is complex; the network and the operating environment are in a constant flux, which creates conflict and challenging situations. Collaboration and ways of working evolve through various crises, internal and external incidents, and project phases. This means that project management practices, communication patterns, contracts, and ultimately personal relationships change. This longitudinal, qualitative, single case study analyzes a 20-year-old enterprise systems development project, whereby different incidents and crises initiated changes to collaboration practices and the drivers for collaboration. We identified four collaboration modes — contract mode, cooperation mode, personified mode, and process mode — each of which was the main driver in different development circumstances. As a key contribution, we propose the seed of a mid-range theory that provides heuristics for responding to different types of crises that might occur while developing large-scale systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103407
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • enterprise systems
  • software development
  • large-scale systems


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