Managing Diverse Stakeholders in Enterprise Systems Projects: A Control Portfolio Approach


While substantial research has examined the control of information systems (IS) projects, most studies in this area have only examined how one controller manages a single group of controllees. However, many IS projects, especially enterprise systems projects (often initiated by an organization's corporate headquarters, and involving business unit users and consultants), have multiple stakeholders. The corporate headquarters (the project's principal controller) must simultaneously ensure that the various stakeholders are aligned with the project's goals despite their diverse motivations, and that the stakeholders collaborate with each other to achieve project success. Behavior control theory argues that the controller enacts a control portfolio of formal and informal controls. However, the presence of multiple controllee groups increases the complexity of vertical controller-controllee relationships, the salience of controllee-controllee relationships, and the interaction between these vertical and horizontal relationships. We therefore examined the creation and evolution of the control portfolio in a multi-stakeholder project over a period of 14 months. We found that (1) the principal controller did enact separate controls for the user and consultant groups; (2) there was more than one controller - the principal controller co-existed with subordinate controllers; and (3) controls enacted by the subordinate controllers and other controllees that cut across stakeholder groups required the support of the principal controller.


Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

control; enterprise systems; multiple stakeholders; project management

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0268-3962; 1466-4437

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2011 JIT Palgrave Macmillan, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2011