Caught in between: How an organization became a prisoner of its legacy system after is change

Tapani Rinta-Kahila*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Replacing a legacy system is a complex information system (IS) change project and represents severe economic and operational risks for an organization. Due to this, legacy systems are hard to get rid of and thus they sometimes continue to live alongside their intended replacement systems, forming complex IS architectures. To understand how this happens, I conducted an in-depth case study of a factory that failed to kill its legacy system despite executing two massive IS implementations. Interviews with key stakeholders reveal that the factory has gotten caught in between old and new system architectures. Leveraging the punctuated socio-technical information system change (PSIC) model as a theoretical sensitizing device, I provide a process explanation for this outcome. Moreover, I propose extensions to the PSIC model to better capture the nuances of complex IS change. My findings help managers to make more informed decisions when engaging into complex IS change projects.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICIS 2018 Proceedings
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9966831-7-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Information Systems - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 13 Dec 201816 Dec 2018
Conference number: 39


ConferenceInternational Conference on Information Systems
Abbreviated titleICIS
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • IS discontinuance
  • Legacy system
  • Organizational IS change
  • Process theorizing
  • PSIC model


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