Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 17 Number 2 2000 pp. 115-152

Institutional Bridging: How Conceptions of IT-Enabled Change Shape the Planning Process

Tillquist, John

ABSTRACT: Organizations are continually influenced by notions of management promoted through broadly held visions of managerial practice. These notions often incorporate models that generally prescribe information technologies as enabling agents for directed organizational change. Such concepts reflect highly cohesive, self-referential systems of beliefs, goals, and rules that structure perspectives about computerization and work in organizations. To achieve "breakthrough" changes in efficiency, performance, or competitive advantage, organizations must translate these high concepts into a specific model of change appropriate for their organizational context. This study shows how abstract and institutional-level conceptions about change are translated into actionable and individual-level realities, and how within this translation the organization's ability to reform can be locked into a constraining process. As consultants bridge institutionalized conceptions of management to discrete organizational activities, participants of change adopt not only the vision of change but also new ways to talk, act, and plan. This adoption may inhibit change by blocking effective discussion and forcing compliance to ill-fitting prescriptions.

Key words and phrases: business process reengineering, change methodologies, interpretivist field study, IT enabled organizational changes, organizational transformation