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Title: The internal diffusion of new digital innovations : a case of enterprise social networking adoption
Author: Ramotar, Mario
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 6625
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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Despite a growing interest in processes of diffusion within organisations and some understanding of the social processes of creating and enacting external and internal IT innovations, little empirical research has studied potentially relevant intra-organisational diffusion dynamics underlying the movement of innovations adopted at an organisational level, into the front-line practices of organisational subunits. Furthermore, we know even less about the diffusion processes of non-transactional digital innovations, such as enterprise social networking (ESN). ESNs embedded “ideology of openness” and its nontransactional nature particularly create social tensions that largely run against the grain of organisational rationality and efficiency, pervade key organisational processes and lead to wide variations in how organisational actors interpret and appropriate ESN features within organisations. The goal of this research is to theorize about the institutional mechanisms and processes by which these highly flexible digital innovations become misaligned, aligned and diffused at the micro-level of everyday work, as well as the enabling and precipitating dynamics that condition and trigger these mechanisms. This theorization involved a longitudinal exploration of how different communities of actors in a globally distributed technology services firm appropriated an ESN platform over a four year period, and how managerial intervention shaped appropriation outcomes. These dynamics can be understood through a rhetorical legitimation lens as a process where organisational actors with competing interests use strategic communications, to legitimate and enable the generation of collective meanings around distinctly different IT features and practices. Findings indicate that the core internal diffusion process was intra-organisational theorizing around ESN. Intra-organisational theorizing was an on-going process of elaborating and refining the organisational level theorization for ESN to suit front- line employees in their immediate contexts. In this way, it gradually helped to standardize and scale the ESNs features and functions as it was appropriated by different communities of actors (infusion). In each infusion, intra-organisational theorizing unfolded in three cumulative and relatively sequential phases of legitimation: (1) rationale framing (2) value advertising, and (3) motivating engagement, which were instrumental for respectively managing political, technical and cultural institutional misalignments, and promoting intra-group meaning making. On the other hand, negotiation and inter-group meaning-making was enabled by strategically grafting on other intra-organisational theorizations, and co-opting people, ESN functions, and practices from other infusions. Further, these legitimation processes unfolded as a sequence of primarily pragmatic pathos and logos appeals. In particular, early and on-going logos appeals helped to de-legitimate established, competing technologies, and directly enabled legitimation and collective meaning-making around ESN.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor