Introducing Transformational Information Technologies: The Case of the World Wide Web Technology

Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa and Blake Ives
International Journal of Electronic Commerce
Volume 1, Number 1, Fall, 1996, pp. 95 – 126.

Abstract: Transformational information technologies, by definition, transform organizations. Research on radical technological innovation and revolutionary change suggests a particular set of conditions and strategies for the successful introduction of transformational technologies. We explore the role of internal information technology groups, senior executive management, cross-functional virtual teams, performance crisis, and staged events in the introduction of the World Wide Web technology in two firms during the technology’s early commercial exploitation.

Our study affirms theoretical expectations that new transformational information technologies are not well managed by information technology groups. Senior management vision also was not the wellspring of the Web introduction. An ad hoc virtual team, consisting of members from diverse sectors of the business, served as the champions of technology in both firms. These teams harnessed their voluntary activities to a continuing series of events, many staged from the external environment. A performance crisis was not a compelling motivator for the introduction of the Web technology. In fact, in one of the firms, a performance crisis was more of a threat to than a stimulus for the early Web innovations.

Key Words and Phrases
: diffusion of innovation, Internet, organization design, technological innovation, transformational technology, world wide web.