The German Academic Association for Business Research nominated the following paper for their annual Best Paper Award (link):
Gregory, R.W.; Keil, M.; Muntermann, J.; Mähring, M.
Paradoxes and the Nature of Ambidexterity in IT Transformation Programs
In: Information Systems Research (ISR), Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 57–80.
Abstract: Though information technology (IT) transformation programs are gaining in importance, we know little about the nature of the challenges involved in such programs and how to manage them. Using grounded theory methodology, we conducted a multiyear case study of a large IT transformation program in a major commercial bank, during which we encountered the interrelated themes of paradoxes and ambidexterity. Grounded in our case, we construct a substantive theory of ambidexterity in IT transformation programs that identifies and explains the paradoxes that managers need to resolve in IT transformation programs. The ambidexterity areas we identified are (1) IT portfolio decisions (i.e., IT efficiency versus IT innovation), (2) IT platform design (i.e., IT standardization versus IT differentiation), (3) IT architecture change (i.e., IT integration versus IT replacement), (4) IT program planning (i.e., IT program agility versus IT project stability), (5) IT program governance (i.e., IT program control versus IT project autonomy), and (6) IT program delivery (i.e., IT program coordination versus IT project isolation). What weaves these six areas together is the combined need for IT managers to employ ambidextrous resolution strategies to ensure short-term IT contributions and continuous progress of IT projects while simultaneously working toward IT transformation program success as a foundation for IT-enabled business transformation. However, in addition to this commonality, we find that the nature of paradoxical tensions differs across the six areas and requires slightly different management strategies for paradox resolution. Ambidexterity areas (1), (2), and (3) are associated with IT transformation strategizing and, in addition to balancing short- and long-term goals, require the mutual accommodation and blending of business and IT interests in the spirit of IT-business partnering to achieve IT-enabled business change and IT-based competitiveness. Ambidexterity areas (4), (5), and (6) are associated with IT program and project execution and, in addition to balancing short- and long-term requirements, require a recurrent and dynamic act of balancing “local” needs at the IT project level and “global” needs at the IT program level.