Digital Transformation: an institutional perspective

Bob Hinings, Royston Greenwood and I published an article titled “Digital innovation and transformation: An institutional perspective” in the journal Organization and Information.

Two observations were critical inspirations for this article. First, Uber experiences how the regulatory contexts of the transportation industry in European cities effectively results in a shutdown of its services in certain jurisdictions. Second, I saw a talk from an Airbnb employee at a conference. He emphasized how crucial the review systems are for the functioning of the market, but he understated the role of existing institutional frameworks. However, through verifying IDs or using insurance services, Airbnb leverages existing institutions too. The lesson from Uber is that context matters – despite the disruptive, forward-looking ‚digital talk‘ championed in Silicon Valley. We can learn from Airbnb that we should think more about the interplay between new and old arrangements.

Consequently, and embracing an institutional perspective, we understand digital transformation as “the combined effects of several digital innovations bringing about novel actors (and actor constellations), structures, practices, values, and beliefs that change, threaten, replace or complement existing rules of the game within organizations and fields“ (Hinings et al., 2018: 3). To become institutionalized, such novel digital arrangements must gain legitimacy (i.e., social acceptance) of critical audiences in a given institutional field.

If you want to learn more, check out our article. You can contact me also via researchgate.

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