How Do You Perpetuate IT-Enabled Change When Top Management Participation and Involvement Diminish?

Cecil Eng Huang Chua, Adrian Yong Kwang Yeow, Christina Wai Lin Soh

Abstract


Background: Research has demonstrated that sustained top management participation and involvement are important for IT-enabled change. However, this is not always possible. How IT-enabled change can succeed when top management participation and involvement diminish is an unsolved, but important research question.

Method: We perform a 5-year exploratory longitudinal case study.

Results: Our data is presented in two parts. We first present the contextual elements (goals, people, structures/processes, and artifacts) during the two years top management was actively participating and involved. For the three-year period where top management participation and involvement diminished, we present the contextual elements, and middle management’s enactment of traditional middle management roles (information broker, mediator, facilitator, change agent) on three kinds of threats to the change (deviations from change vision, emergent issues, involving new stakeholders).

Conclusions: We find IT-enabled change can succeed when top management participation and involvement diminish if middle management engages in joint action, i.e., intentional collective activity where members consciously choose to coordinate to achieve a goal. We identify three kinds of joint action: Constraining, where actions of the group limit the ability of individual middle managers to deviate from shared goals, Enabling, whereby a group of middle managers adapt the project to changing circumstances, and Extending, where groups of middle managers engage with others not in their functional areas. Joint action emerges when top management embeds, in the project context, (1) key influential stakeholders who are involved in the change, (2) a common goal, (3) structures and processes that promote collective work, and (4) artifacts inscribed with the common goal and collective work.


Keywords


IT-Enabled Change; Top Management; Middle Management

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Chua, C., Yeow, A., & Soh, C. (2019). How Do You Perpetuate IT-Enabled Change When Top Management Participation and Involvement Diminish? Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 11(4), 7-43. https://doi.org/10.17705/1pais.11402