Customer relationship management information systems (CRM‐IS) and the realisation of moral agency

Publication Date04 May 2010
AuthorChristopher Bull,Alison Adam
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Customer relationship
management information systems
(CRM-IS) and the realisation
of moral agency
Christopher Bull
Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK, and
Alison Adam
University of Salford, Salford, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how the design of characteristics and use of
practices incorporated in customer relationship management information systems (CRM-IS) impact on
the expression and realisation of moral agency within organisations.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on the findings from an in-depth UK case
study of a CRM-IS implementation.
Findings – The paper finds that some characteristics and practices within CRM-IS can restrict the
expression and realisation of moral agency in organisational life, resulting in a number of problems.
For a greater consideration of MacIntyre’s virtue ethics approach in order to respond to such
challenges is argued.
Originality/value – The paper offers a relatively rare insight into the significance of the ethical
issues arising from the organisational use of CRM-IS and strategies. The paper should be of interest to
managers, computer professionals and academics.
Keywords Customer relations,Customer service management, Management information systems,
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
The global market for the organis ational adoption of customer re lationship
management information systems (CRM-IS), continues to grow at a significant rate.
According to AMR Research and Gartner, the specific market for CRM-IS was
$13 billion in 2008. The research associated with CRM continues to evolve and focuses
on a range of topics, such as; strategic objectives and the development of strategic
frameworks (Bull, 2003b; Fosser et al., 2008; Newell, 2000; Zablah et al., 2004), proje ct
implementation and the assessment of risk (Bull, 2003a; Parr and Shanks, 2000;
Sumner, 2000), and system maintenance or configuration (Light, 2001). Despite some
relatively rare examples (Adam and Bull, 2008; Adam and Light, 2004; Polomino
Murcia and Whitley, 2007; Wagner and Newell, 2004) there remain relatively few
studies that assess the ethical issues associated with the design and use of enterprise
information systems (IS) and barely any relating to CRM-IS.
This paper seeks to contribute to our knowledge in this area by evaluating some of
the ethical issues arising from the design and strategic use of CRM-IS. We reflect on
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 27 June 2008
Revised 28 March 2009
Accepted 27 May 2009
Journal of Information,
Communication & Ethics in Society
Vol. 8 No. 2, 2010
pp. 164-177
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/14779961011040578

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