Mandated RFID and Institutional Responses: Cases of Decentralized Business Units
Production and Operations Management
Using a theory-building approach based on case studies, this research explores the responses of four decentralized business units to institutional pressure to adopt Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) technology. The institutional pressure emanates from the Department of Defense, and the affected decentralized business units operate in a large defense contractor. Institutional theory explains how organizations respond to external pressures to adopt new procedures, policies, and technologies. The case studies show how business units vary in their response to the RFID mandate and how different internal dynamics manifest. The responses range from complying faithfully, primarily concerned with satisfying the external constituent, to completely ignoring the mandate and focusing on internal efficiency initiative utilizing RFID. A number of propositions are developed to better understand the organizational responses to exogenous pressure to implement RFID. The paper concludes by proposing future research directions and issues that must be considered further.