Exploring Contagion in Digital Innovation: A Virus Perspective

Jeppe Agger Nielsen, Mette Strange Noesgaard, Tina Blegind Jensen, Lars Mathiassen

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Researchers have used contagion metaphors such as diffusion, fashion, and mimicking to examine how digital innovations spread across an organizational field. We extend this line of inquiry by applying Virus Theory to a longitudinal investigation of how three Danish home care organizations adopted mobile technology into their day-to-day operations. Focusing on how innovations (the virus) play out within these three organizations (the hosts) over a 20-year period, we identify three patterns of contagion in digital innovation. In one case, mutation was evident as mobile technology triggered a radical transformation that replaced a control-based with a trust-based regime. In another, incubation was prominent as mobile technology maturated through a slow-paced transformation. In the third case, dormancy was essential as the organization first abandoned mobile technology and then revitalized it at a later stage. As such, the Virus Theory-inspired analysis highlights how the same idea about digital innovations unfolds differently within individual organizations, hence offering new understandings of the ongoing, interrupted, and long-term way in which digital innovations spread across a field. As a result, we argue that the Virus Theory contributes new knowledge about contagion in digital innovation compared to established theories of diffusion, fashion, and mimicking."
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eightieth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsGuclu Atinc
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020: Broadening Our Sight - Virtual
Duration: 7 Aug 202011 Aug 2020
Conference number: 80


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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