Socio-technical Change: The Equilibrium Paradox

Louise Harder Fischer, Richard Baskerville

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In the domain of change and information systems (IS), we have persisted in the assumption that a well-functioning IS exhibits a balance between the social and the technical structures such that this system rests in a state of stable equilibrium. When transformational change arises, the system falls into a state of disequilibrium, until it reaches a new state of equilibrium. This assumption no longer gives a full explanation of the complex dynamics in today’s enterprise. In this paper, we explain the concept of unstable equilibrium that results from the continuous change that individuated individuals make in socio-technical structures. Our findings arise from a critical realist perspective used to interpret data from an e-group interview with 11 professionals working in platform-based organizations. We find that a generative mechanism of contradictory complementarity, denoted as individualization and socialization, now inhabits the IS and causes outcomes that are both individual-technical and socio-technical. Now change happens in the surface-structures resting in unstable equilibrium, while the deep structures remain in stable equilibrium. This equilibrium paradox in socio-technical change explains how platform-based organizations achieve change by both achieving agility from their IS while simultaneously achieving stability.
TitelECIS 2018 Proceedings
Antal sider16
Udgivelses stedAtlanta, GA
ForlagAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
StatusUdgivet - 2018
Udgivet eksterntJa
BegivenhedThe 26th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2018: Beyond Digitization – Facets of Socio-Technical Change - University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Storbritannien
Varighed: 23 jun. 201828 jun. 2018
Konferencens nummer: 26


KonferenceThe 26th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2018
LokationUniversity of Portsmouth
NavnProceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems


Fischer, L. H., & Baskerville, R. (2018). Socio-technical Change: The Equilibrium Paradox. I ECIS 2018 Proceedings Atlanta, GA: Association for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL). Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems