Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 40 Number 3 2023 pp. 1009-1034

Task Conflict Resolution in Designing Legacy Replacement Systems

Tsai, Jacob Chia-An, Jiang, James J, Klein, Gary, and Hung, Shin-Yuan


Organizations undergo significant change in the pursuit of digital transformation. Among those changes is replacing legacy information systems (LIS) with updated systems that integrate data, platforms, and software across all operational functions. The development of a broad legacy replacement system requires extensive resourses and a core development team composed of technical professionals with development oversight and operational experts representing the diverse interests of the functional units. Within the team, replacing LIS raises task conflicts in the distribution of system resources across operational departments and perception differences in the replacement system’s alignment with the organization’s needs. Prior studies suggest deploying collaborative strategies to resolve task-related conflicts on resource allocation and design preferences without contextual consideration. We built a model rooted in conflict survival theory to consider conflicts arising in the design of the replacement system, identify appropriate design team mechanisms, and examine conflict resolution strategies targeted to the context. A mixed-methods study of survey results from 119 legacy replacements and interviews of legacy replacement project managers indicates that teams adapt responses to the different conflict types inherent to legacy replacement design and should further consider selecting a conflict resolution strategy. Identifying appropriate actions and distinct conflict resolution strategies adds to task conflict theory and advises practice selecting the more appropriate activities and strategies specific to replacement system design.

Key words and phrases: Legacy information systems, task conflict, adaptation, conflict resolution strategies, legacy systems replacement