Managing a Stormy Change in IT Outsourcing: Antenarrative Analysis of Integrating Knowledge via Improvisation

Maria Alaranta, Pauli Alin

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


    Changes in information-technology outsourcing (ITO) are often challenging. Critical to success is integrating knowledge efficiently between the client and vendor. Some of these changes are novel and unpredictable, “stormy” events where past knowledge offers little guidance, and existing practices lose value. Improvisation has been suggested as a complementary means for such situations. However, both the literature on improvisation and the practices identified in the existing ITO literature suggest a need for shared understanding. We present an empirical account of a stormy ITO change that was triggered when the client acquired a business and post-acquisition IT integration was needed. The client’s and the vendor’s story plots point to opposite directions and reveal a lack of shared understanding. Nevertheless, improvisation helped to integrate knowledge and complete the project. We draw on the metaphor of trading zones to understand these findings. Our future research will extend improvisation theory to stormy ITO contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 35th International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2014
    EditorsElena Karahanna, Ananth Srinivasan, Bernard Tan
    Number of pages11
    Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
    PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
    Publication date2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventThe 35th International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2014: Building a Better World through Information Systems - The University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand
    Duration: 14 Dec 201417 Dec 2014
    Conference number: 35


    ConferenceThe 35th International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2014
    LocationThe University of Auckland Business School
    Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
    Internet address
    SeriesProceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems

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