Document Type


Publication Date

January 2012


The concept of service-oriented enterprise has great potential. Taken literally, however, it raises many issues, including practical difficulties of creating a service-oriented enterprise in the computer science sense and the huge leap from flexible IT infrastructure to an enterprise that is genuinely oriented toward providing services for customers and employees. This paper is a conceptual contribution showing how work system theory can help in seeing analysis and design issues beyond technical architectures that have dominated research to date. After summarizing background concepts related to service, service systems, and the vision of service-oriented enterprises, this paper explains how work system theory can help in recognizing many obstacles on the path toward that ideal. Recognition of those obstacles supports analysis and design by illuminating the amount of change required to move to a genuinely service-oriented enterprise and by helping analysts and designers decide where service-orientation in its various guises is really appropriate.