IT and Organizational Change in Digital Economies: A Socio-Technical Approach

From Adaptive Cycle
Jump to: navigation, search

Authors: R. Kling, R. Lamb

Publication Year: 1999


Journal: ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society

Volume: 29

Issue: 3

Categories: Technical Innovation, Qualitative, Entrepreneurship, Qualitative, Technical Innovation, Organizational Change, Entrepreneurship, Qualitative


Thirty years of systematic empirically grounded research about IT and organizational change suggests that many organizations have trouble in readily changing their practices and structures to take effective advantage of IT. Research has found how it requires complex organizational work takes to get information systems "up and running." In addition, researchers have found that there are sometimes major differences between the ways that systems have been envisioned and how they are used in practice.

Critical Reflection

Discussion by Bjorn Burscher This article discusses the adoption of Information Systems by organizations. I like the idea that they take a social systems perspective on the innovation process. If you ask me, organizations are complex social systems possessing cultures. According to Rogers, "diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system". This process occurs over time. Thereby, social systems determine diffusion, norms on diffusion, roles of opinion leaders and change agents, types of innovation decisions, and innovation consequences. In their conclusion, the authors of the article ask, among others, the following question: 1. What are the organizational and social processes and technological opportunities~constraints that influence the ways that organizations "go digital" and how do these influence the development of new services, business viability, etc.? 2. What are the organizational and social processes that influence the ways that whole industries "go digital"? How can we understand differences between industries, such as travel versus steel manufacturing? The following factors, as defined by Rogers, might be of relevance to answering these questions:

  • Relative Advantage - How improved an innovation is over the previous generation.
  • Compatibility - The level of compatibility that an innovation has to be assimilated into an individual’s life.
  • Complexity - If the innovation is perceived as complicated or difficult to use, an individual is unlikely to adopt it.
  • Trialability - How easily an innovation may be experimented. If a user is able to test an innovation, the individual will be more likely to adopt it.
  • Observability - The extent that an innovation is visible to others. An innovation that is more visible will drive communication among the individual’s peers and personal networks and will in turn create more positive or negative reactions.

Innovations in the realm of IT are often highly complex and are not easily to experiment. That makes its implementation very risky. Besides, as complexity increases planned costs for the implementation might be higher than expected, because system development is likely to be characterized by problems leading to longer implementation times. This makes it also difficult to observe the advantages or savings to which the innovation leads.