The Conditions of Complex Innovation Adoption Occurrence „ A Critical Realist Perspective


  • Marius Mihailescu
  • Daniela Mihailescu
  • Sven Carlsson


Keywords: IS/IT adoption occurrence, enterprise systems implementation methodology, realist social theory, critical realism, morphogenetic approach, modes of reflexivity


Abstract: The adoption of innovation is a multifaceted and dynamic phenomenon. It occurs as a result of the interplay between structural influences and agents activities. Although existing studies on innovation have recognised the importance of theories that link the structure, the macro level, and agency, the micro level, in explaining changes over time, few theoretical accounts support the integrations of multiple levels of analysis. The purpose of this paper is to develop an explanatory framework based on a realist social theory and underpinned by a critical realist perspective, with the intention of describing and explaining IS/IT adoption occurrences. The potential of the framework is empirically illustrated with a case study that examines the adoption of one Enterprise Systems Implementation Methodology by implementers in an implementation context. Our qualitative study provides explanatory insights and a rich description of a particular type of complex innovation. Four theoretically and empirically grounded modes of adopting an implementation methodology are identified: fragmented, aggregated, integrated and infrastructural. Using the framework allow us to achieve four things. First, the framework will support the researchers in identifying particular configurations and the pattern of events caused by them. Second, it will take into account the embeddedness of innovations that have occurred within broader structural configurations. Third, it will allow the researchers to distinguish the different stances agents might adopt toward particular innovations and structural configurations. Fourth, the researchers will be able to identify variations that have occurred in the adoption of innovations. This study offers a foundation for future work that may contribute to a more coherent view on complex innovations and insights into their potential adoption; as such, the findings presented here can provide guidance for practitioners who seek to adopt complex IS/IT innovations.



1 Oct 2013