INERTIA AND CHANGE IN TRANSFORMATION OF THE IT- FUNCTION IN LARGE ORGANIZATIONS: A PATH THEORY LENS

Authors

  • Knut-H Rolland
  • Kathrine Vestues

Abstract

Digitalization and digital transformation of large incumbent organizations, more often than not, require substantial changes to how the IT-function conducts and sources software development. This, however, often involves battling strong organizational and technical inertia making radical changes hard to implement. Yet, radical changes are often a prerequisite for digitally transforming the firm. In this regard, we present a longitudinal case study of a large governmental organization that over a relatively short period managed to radically change their IT-function in spite of strong inertia related to its software development methods and practices, sourcing arrangements, and legacy systems. In explaining this, the paper presents two contributions. First, we build on path theory to explain how IT organizations can develop organizational inertia in terms of path dependence related to software development methods, souring models, software delivery routines, and legacy systems. Second, we identify three interdependent mechanisms of breaking out of such path dependency: use of digital platforms for software development, attracting and securing competence, and establishment of cross-disciplinary software development teams. The paper concludes by giving some directions to further Information Systems (IS) research on this topic.

Published

2020-11-22