An exploratory research of instructors' attitude toward ERP education in Southeast Asia.

Author:Kanthawongs, Penjira

    Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) refers to software solutions or a business concept integrating all departments and functions throughout an organization into linked set of Information Technology (IT) systems for everyone involved with the organization to make decision. In another words, everyone involved with the organization will source, produce, and deliver the company's products or services with the same information in order to diminish redundancies, wasted time, and misinformation (Baltzan and Philips, 2010). ERP software has been implemented by numerous organizations throughout Southeast Asia (Kanthawongs and Kanthawongs, 2010b; Ngai, et al., 2008; Xue et al., 2005). Southeast Asia countries include Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor (Timor-Leste), Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam (, 2010). The economic growth of Southeast Asia has made this region become major target of ERP software vendors (BusinessNewsAmerica, 2010; Linker, 2010; Sawah et al., 2008). Nevertheless, the implementation of ERP systems in Southeast Asian countries are unlikely to follow the same implemented models as in Europe or U.S.A mainly because factors such as labor cost, skill base, research and development capacity, infrastructure, government policies, culture, and language factors of the Southeast Asian countries are significantly different from western countries as well as unconventional among themselves (Kanthawongs and Kanthawongs, 2010b; Robert, 2002; Soh et al., 2000). On one hand, a strong economy, an IT literate population, a strict government regulation, and a diverse ethnic/culture mix support Singapore's ubiquitous computing environment. To illustrate, in 1996-2000, seven public hospitals in Singapore implemented an ERP solution chiefly to resolve the Y2K problem (Soh et al., 2000). On the other hand, in 2002, many Philippine companies had not implemented ERP applications due to "high cost, lack of appreciation of the software, difficulties in application to the local environment, and the question of sustainability." During the Estrada administration, the Philippine economy suffered severely from the Asian financial crisis. For an expensive project like ERP to be implemented by a company depends on the financial viability of the corporation to use it given this larger picture of the economy (Roldan et al., 2002).

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has planned to create an ASEAN Economic Community by 2020, a single market in which goods/services, flows of capital, and skilled labor would flow freely, providing the region success in unifying commercial policies across states (Plummer, 2006). Furthermore, the liberalization in manufacturing sector has been promoted by international/regional commitments such as the WTO, IMF, ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. If a company in the ASEAN region can successfully implemented ERP systems into it operations, the company is likely to be able to compete in the liberalized arena. For instance, "Indonesian trade liberalization in the manufacturing sector was faster than that of Thailand and could catch up with Malaysian trade liberalization" (Widodo, 2008). Organizations such as Communication Authority of Thailand and Telecom Public Company Limited have implemented ERP systems to support their global operations (Longsomboon, 2006). Indonesia stock exchange and Goodyear Indonesia implemented ERP systems in 2004 (Lianto et al., 2010; Lutfiyanti and Mutiara, 2004). Examples of global operations are "currency conversions, time and location adoption, consolidation across diverse accounting standards, multilingual facilities, and legal control" (Rudra et al., 2009). Moreover, the managers of Provincial Electricity Authority of Thailand expressed the efficiency in resource management such as accuracy/ transparency of recorded data and timeliness for decision, using the ERP system (Sajjamano, 2006). Huin suggests an agent-based model for coordinating the management of ERP in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in South East Asia (SEA) region, so SMEs can better manage their ERP systems (Huin, 2004). ERP systems seamlessly support and automate business processes by linking the functional areas and sharing data in real time across the organization "locally, nationally, and globally" (Rudra et al., 2009).

    While the major providers of ERP software include SAP (Systems, Applications and Products), Oracle, PeopleSoft and Microsoft, SAP is the German market leader in ERP software (Vluggen and Bollen, 2005). Many business schools are motivated to offer ERP concepts with hands-on experience into their curriculums through the SAP University Alliance Program (SAP UAP) in order to prepare students for job employment. SAP UAP provides full-scale SAP R/3 ERP software and data center support (University Competency Center, UCC). Advantages of this ERP alliance program in higher education are likely to support students' employability, hands-on experience in globalized context, and visualization of business process view. Additionally, instructors/researchers are likely to benefit from training and research opportunities offered through SAP UAP. However, decision makers/instructors/researchers of alliance universities may find disadvantages of the program such as high investment on purchasing supporting systems and difficulties in developing appropriate curriculum materials/ required expertise of ERP-related skills (Kanthawongs and Kanthawongs, 2010a). Although many business schools have struggled in incorporating ERP systems into their curriculum, the ERP skill shortage has reached an all time high especially the Southeast Asia region (Hawking et al., 2007). The implementation of SAP solutions within this region have been growing substantially with a 37% growth in software licenses in 2004 with the strongest growth in India and China (Hawking et al., 2007; Apotheker, 2005). Recently, SAP appoints a regional university alliance manager of the program attempting to strengthen the program; as a result, 170 universities joined the program as of December 31, 2009 (Woo, 2010). The 170 universities of the SAP UAP Asia Pacific Japan (APJ) (2010) include 45 universities in India, 35 universities in China, 22 universities in Australia, 22 universities in Japan, 14 universities in Thailand, 12 universities in Singapore, 9 universities in Phillipines, 3 universities in Indonesia, 3 universities in New Zealand, 2 universities in South Korea, 1 university in Pakistan, Macau, and Malaysia (Kanthawongs and Kanthawongs, 2010a).

    Therefore, this study explores attitude of the instructors toward the use of SAP software in Southeast Asia's universities. The researchers believe that this study provides an alternative lens and meaningful results in the ERP teaching/learning process. The overarching research question of this study is: what is the attitude of instructors regarding the utilization of the SAP software system in the teaching of business processes in Southeast Asia's universities?


    In the past, Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) is a well-known influential attempt to test a general theory of attitude-behavior links. "Attitude is a person's consistency favorable or unfavorable evaluation, feeling, and tendency towards an object, behavior, or idea" (Choi et al., 2007). Then, TRA was developed into Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to illustrate and predict individuals' attitudes...

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