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Instantiation: re-conceptualising the role of technology as a carrier of organisational strategising

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journal contribution
posted on 07.01.2021, 16:19 by Joao Baptista, Alex Wilson, Robert Galliers
Technology is often used by senior management as an instrument to deliver strategy by influencing day-to-day activities within organisations. We study how local teams appropriate strategy through the use of technology, specifically in instances where it is rigid and single purposed. We show that technology has the potential to act as a carrier of strategic intent. We theorise local practices of appropriation of strategic intent by conceptualising the role of technology in “instantiation”, a notion adopted within the strategy-as-practice literature to explain how localised micro events directly constitute higher-level business outcomes such as strategy. Through an in-depth case study following the use of self-service kiosks in a UK airport over a period of 20 months, we review the strategic drivers at the top of the organisation and the central role of technology as the delivery mechanism of strategy. We focus on emergent strategising activity by local teams on the ground. Our main theoretical contributions are thus to extend the concept of instantiation to Information Systems studies and to conceptualise technology as a carrier of strategy, particularly in explaining how technology can embed strategic intent (structural strategising) and then influence the emergence of local practices consistent with these objectives (emergent strategising). We find and conceptualise how local practices instantiate strategic intent by decoupling, reframing and then recoupling new logics of work to achieve the aims set out in the organisation’s strategy.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

Journal of Information Technology


SAGE Publications


VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Sage under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Dr Alex Wilson. Deposit date: 5 January 2021