Case study: Organization is confidential

From Adaptive Cycle
Jump to: navigation, search


Brigit Peek, Toon Abcouwer

This is the page of the Case Study of Group 1. As the site of our case study, the organization, is confidential we may not present the entire case study report publicly on this wiki. Instead, a brief summary containing an overview of the report is provided.

Case Overview

Unit of analysis

This case study was performed at an organization in The Netherlands, which may not be named due to confidentiality reasons. The focus of this study is a specific Information System (IS) project implementation that took place at this organization.


The objective of this study is to get an insight into the phases of the adaptive cycle an IS project implementation moves through, by attempting to identify the different phases of the adaptive cycle by performing an evaluative case study of an IS project implementation at an organization in The Netherlands. On a more practical note, this study aims to make a number of recommendations for the organization, based on the IS project evaluation that may possibly be extended to future (re)implementations at the organization.

Research Question

What phases of the adaptive cycle may be identified in the IS project implementation, and what was the role of (project)management in each of these phases?

Data Collection

In this study primary data sources were collected from the organization and it's people directly, data which is also confidential. Specifically; documentation, records, and observations of the project organization were analyzed.

Case Study Questions

  • What was the reason for the project?
  • How was the software (system) selection done, and did this choice have influence on the project?
  • What was the role of the supplier during the project?
  • Did project management create opportunities for organisational change or was the plan to copy the known situation into the new system?
  • How was the project organisation selected, internally or externally or both, and why?
  • What stakeholders were involved?


The main findings of our case study are that the several phases of the adaptive cycle may be identified both in the organization as a whole, and within the project implementation. These findings are described in more detail in our case study report, however, they are omitted from the wiki due to the confidentiality of the findings.

Generally, what we have learned from the case study is that several phases of the adaptive cycle are identified. On a management level, the role that (project)management has, is crucial in each of the different phases of the adaptive cycle. In the organization a lot of managers, instead of leaders where involved in steering the project implementation in the crisis phase. The reason for an IS project implementation could be an organizational crisis, however, the outcome of an IS project implementation could induce its own crisis, or present a crisis on the organizational level. In the right side quadrants of the adaptive cycle it is essential to have leaders that can steer the project in a direction and not managers to complete a task.

From the case study we can conclude that the organization can be influenced by external developments, en can move from the left side to the right side (crisis). The right side is the uncertain side in which creative destruction takes place. But it starts in the left side. The organization in quadrant 1 has become a “stationary” in Schumpeter’s (1961) thoughts. In the view of Holling, waiting to see an accident happen, and the organization goes to the second phase of the crisis.


Based on our findings, we recommended to focus on the type of role management has in the project. Apart from management capabilities one could argue that in quadrants 2 and 3 a manager needs also leadership capabilities. In these two quadrants the organization is to be ‘steered’ in a direction not managed to complete a task. Leadership is essential to enforce decisions. Another recommendation is to avoid double roles in the project, not only for managers but also for employees that are crucial for the operational tasks. Double roles are biased in making decisions, therefore different kinds of interest can cause a tense situation that could easily be overcome. It is imperative that organisations learn to deal with the rapidly shifting phases of the adaptive cycle and the role (project)management has in this.


Brigit Peek, Toon Abcouwer