Socio-cognitive perspectives on IT-enabled change in organizations

Mikko Valorinta

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This dissertation examines the long-term evolution of information technology (IT) in organizations from a socio-cognitive perspective. The socio-cognitive perspective on IT-enabled change analyzes the individual and collective processes that are required to process information and to carry through concerted commitments in the organization. Specifically, this study addresses two questions related to the adoption of IT in organizations: (1) "Why organizations have difficulty bringing about IT-enabled change?", and (2) "How can organizations nurture IT-enabled change?" The dissertation is composed of an introduction and four individual studies. In the first paper, the concept of mindfulness is applied to analyze cognitive inertia and techno-social change processes in organizations. The second paper examines how the path dependencies of technology and power relations interrelate. The third paper explores the role of IT and IT management in the organizational search for improved organizational alignment. Finally, an historical study on the evolution of IT in retail industry provides a long term perspective on techno-social change. Using historical, quantitative, and qualitative research designs, the studies address the entire lifecycle of IT in organizations. The dissertation contributes to the existing literature on socio-technical and socio-cognitive change by identifying the organizational processes that construct IT-enabled change in organizations. The study argues that from a socio-cognitive perspective IT-enabled change in an organization can be explored through three organizational processes: comprehension, building commitment, and coordination. The process of comprehension refers to awareness and understanding of the opportunities provided by IT. In addition to comprehension, IT-enabled change is conditioned by an organizational commitment to act. Making decisions and building commitment on IT-initiatives is associated with personal interests and political concerns. Finally, IT-enabled change also commonly cross functional boundaries and call for a coordinated effort and alignment between organizational professions and units. The three processes of comprehension, building commitment, and coordination occur throughout the technological lifecycle and are partly overlapping. The better comprehension organizational actors have of the opportunities provided by IT, the more likely they are to make decisions and build joint alignment for the change initiative. Strong organizational commitment again enables effective cross-functional coordination for the change effort.
Translated title of the contributionSosio-kognitiivisia näkökulmia tietotekniikan mahdollistamaan organisaatiomuutokseen
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lamberg, Juha-Antti, Supervising Professor
  • Schildt, Henri, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-4578-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-4579-5
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • information technology
  • organizational change
  • socio-cognitive perspective
  • IT alignment
  • mindfulness
  • retail


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