Dressage, Control and Enterprise Systems: The Case of NASA's Full Cost Initiative

Nicholas Berente, Uri Gal, Youngjin Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In 2004, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) implemented Full Cost, an activity-based accounting program through an agency-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation. We apply Foucault’s notion of ‘dressage’ to highlight aspects of demonstrative control associated with this implementation effort and to outline the different dimensions along which control was distributed. We suggest that some elements of Full Cost and the ERP system were geared toward satisfying disciplinary requirements without necessarily contributing to productive activity. We term these elements dressage-as-control. Our findings indicate that dressage-as-control breeds dressage-as-response: employees’ responses to control imperatives that are intended merely to satisfy the demand for control by exhibiting public compliance, but make no direct contribution to the execution of work. Accordingly, we propose that the ideal of complete enterprise control remains unattainable, as aspects of demonstrative control are inevitably implicated within broader enterprise-wide control systems within contemporary organizations. We conclude with implications for research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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