Digital transformation of public sector organisation: Interpretive case studies

Risto Paavola

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

Digital transformation is defined as the use of digital technologies to radically improve an organisation's performance. However, the digital transformation of public sector organisations is not well understood, and many organisations struggle digitalising their business processes with traditional and emerging technologies. Organisations require an understanding of the issues arising from technology selection and best processes and practices addressing these issues to be able to produce functional digital strategies. Therefore, the main objective of this dissertation is to contribute to the accumulating body of knowledge on digital transformation by exploring the following dissertation-level research questions: "How are the issues in digitalising business processes with traditional technologies addressed in public sector organisations?" and "How are the issues in digitalising business processes with emerging technologies addressed in public sector organisations?" To address the knowledge gap, the present dissertation establishes a research framework to study the essential organisational issues and the related processes and practices in public sector organisations. Empirical evidence is drawn from multiple digital transformation projects through qualitative inquiry to populate the issues and the related processes and practices. Qualitative case study research is adopted as the main research method to gain in-depth knowledge of the associated organisational phenomena. Overall, the dissertation proposes that the issues and the related processes and practices of digital transformation differs when acquiring traditional technologies or emerging technologies. In both cases a public sector organisations require the knowledge and participation of several parties. However, when the digital transformation is achieved with traditional technologies, the collaboration parties are mostly intra-organisational and when it is achieved with emerging technologies, the collaboration parties are more extra-organisational. A central actor was identified who drives the digital transformation with top management and with end users. The actor was found to acquire knowledge from business processes and relating technologies. The dissertation contributes to existing body of theoretical knowledge of digital transformation. The practical contribution of the dissertation builds upon the guidance provided to managers of public sector organisations through the knowledge of an important central actor in the organisation, which drives the digital transformation of the organisation. Also knowledge of the mechanisms how this actor forms development ideas is presented.
Translated title of the contributionDigitaalinen murros julkishallinnon organisaatiossa: Selittäviä tapaustutkimuksia
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Rossi, Matti, Supervising Professor
  • Hallikainen, Petri, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8954-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8955-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Keywords

  • digital transformation
  • public sector
  • emerging technologies
  • organisational design
  • organisational learning

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