Building an Information Infrastructure: Identification of Design Archetypes and Contingencies of Successful Implementation

Charikleia Rapti

Student thesis: Master thesis


From supporting information exchange to enabling breakthrough scientific innovation, Information Infrastructures (II) are today omnipresent through a wide variety of manifestations ranging in expectations, scale and capabilities. Literature has displayed an increased interest in the object but seems to overlook the above variety treating IIs as a homogeneous phenomenon represented by a specific profile of characteristics forming an ideal image that should be followed in order to address any problem. This thesis challenges this position and suggests that there are several types of IIs which should be built in alignment with the problem that needs to be solved. The research is facilitated by the creation of a framework based on II literature and adopting the perspective of Contingency Theory, structured upon the dimensions of contingency, solution and outcome. Through a survey on forty published cases, the findings indicate that four distinct archetypes of II design can be identified, based on the dimensions of technical openness (modularity, looseness of coupling, standardisation, flexibility) and social openness (stakeholder involvement, control decentralisation, image). The findings also indicate that each of these archetypes has been successful in certain contingencies comprising specific characteristics regarding their technological, organisational and external environment. The role of the framework is illustrated through an in-depth case study of an II in-the-making, helping to identify its contingency and consequently match it to one the aforementioned archetypes, thus providing recommendations for the II's development. This constitutes one of the main contributions of this research; the provision of a comprehensive framework that helps to study the different dimensions and of IIs and can be used to investigate the environment of the IIs so as to support a systematic approach regarding the decisions on technical and social design. If the right archetypes are selected, wrong investments will be prevented and future IIs will be able to provide actual and valuable benefits to their users.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages159
SupervisorsStefan Henningsson