Managing a stormy change in IT outsourcing: Antenarrative analysis of integrating knowledge via improvisation

Maria Alaranta, Pauli Alin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionProfessional


Changes in information-technology outsourcing (ITO) are often challenging. Critical to success is integrating knowledge efficiently between the client and vendor. Some of these changes are novel and unpredictable, "stormy" events where past knowledge offers little guidance, and existing practices lose value. Improvisation has been suggested as a complementary means for such situations. However, both the literature on improvisation and the practices identified in the existing ITO literature suggest a need for shared understanding. We present an empirical account of a stormy ITO change that was triggered when the client acquired a business and post-acquisition IT integration was needed. The client's and the vendor's story plots point to opposite directions and reveal a lack of shared understanding. Nevertheless, improvisation helped to integrate knowledge and complete the project. We draw on the metaphor of trading zones to understand these findings. Our future research will extend improvisation theory to stormy ITO contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication35th International Conference on Information Systems "Building a Better World Through Information Systems", ICIS 2014
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeD3 Professional conference proceedings
EventInternational Conference on Information Systems - Auckland, New Zealand
Duration: 14 Dec 201417 Dec 2014
Conference number: 35


ConferenceInternational Conference on Information Systems
Abbreviated titleICIS
CountryNew Zealand


  • Case study
  • IT outsourcing
  • M&A
  • Post-acquisition IS integration
  • Stormy change


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