Juggling the Paradoxes: Governance Mechanisms in Bimodal IT Organizations

Jan Jöhnk, Severin Oesterle, Till J. Winkler, Jacob Nørbjerg, Nils Urbach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The fundamental changes associated with digitalization demand businesses and public enterprises to balance exploitative and explorative capabilities in their internal IT function. One approach to balance these paradoxical demands is the adoption of twofold organizational structures often referred to as bimodal IT. While the IS literature has made recent advances in the description and analysis of bimodal organization structures, we still lack a deeper understanding of the inner workings within bimodal IT organizations and the potential tensions between traditional and agile IT. To address this research gap, we adopt IT governance mechanisms as an analytical framework to study two bimodal IT organization cases, one at a law enforcement agency and the other at an automotive company. We analyze data collected through fourteen semi-structured interviews using grounded theory techniques. We first identify challenges associated with the implementation of and the coordination within organization’s bimodal IT organizations. We then identify the structural, procedural, and relational governance mechanisms used within these organizations and elucidate how they relate to the categories of challenges. Finally, we identify and describe five novel governance paradoxes of bimodal IT organizations that emerged as core concepts from this research. Theoretical contributions and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECIS 2019 Proceedings
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)9781733632508
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event27th European Conference on Information Systems: Information Systems for a Sharing Society, ECIS 2019: Information Systems for a Sharing Society - Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 8 Jun 201914 Jun 2019
Conference number: 27


Conference27th European Conference on Information Systems: Information Systems for a Sharing Society, ECIS 2019
LocationStockholm University
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems


  • IT governance mechanisms
  • Bimodal IT
  • Paradox theory
  • IT ambidexterity
  • Multiple case study

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