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The Complexity of Digital Transformation – Conceptualizing Multiple Concurrent Initiatives

Jan Jöhnk1, Severin Oesterle2, Philipp Ollig1, and Lena-Nicole Riedel3 1 Project Group Business & Information Systems Engineering of the Fraunhofer FIT, Universities of Augsburg and Bayreuth, Augsburg and Bayreuth, Germany
3 University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany

Currently, companies launch digital transformation initiatives (DTI) to cope with technological changes, challenging competitive environments, increasing customer demands, and other digitalization challenges. The DTI spectrum is broad and covers structural changes (e.g. dedicated digital units) as well as contextual changes (e.g. overarching cultural change programs). Often companies launch multiple concurrent DTIs resulting in considerable organizational complexity. However, research on how to manage the interplay of DTIs successfully is still scarce. Therefore, we distinguish three coordination aspects (i.e. strategic alignment, governance, communication & culture) to manage DTIs’ interplay. Drawing on organizational and IS research as well as on a single case study with eight interviews, we conceptualize DTIs as manifestations of digital transformation. We show that multiple concurrent DTIs can foster structural and contextual ambidexterity, i.e. leading to hybrid ambidexterity in organizations. Thereby, we contribute to a better understanding of DTIs, their interplay, and their value to increase hybrid ambidexterity.

Schlüsselwörter: Digital Transformation, Hybrid Ambidexterity, Strategic Alignment, Governance, Communication and Culture.

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