University of Oulu

Arto Lanamäki, Karin Väyrynen, Sari Laari-Salmela, Marianne Kinnula, Examining relational digital transformation through the unfolding of local practices of the Finnish taxi industry, The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Volume 29, Issue 3, 2020, 101622, ISSN 0963-8687,

Examining relational digital transformation through the unfolding of local practices of the Finnish taxi industry

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Author: Lanamäki, Arto1,2; Väyrynen, Karin3; Laari-Salmela, Sari4;
Organizations: 1School of Marketing and Communication, University of Vaasa, Finland
2School of Digital Technologies, Tallinn University, Estonia
3INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland
4University of Oulu Business School, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-09-16


Digital transformation has become a central construct in information systems (IS) research. Current conceptualizations largely attribute transformation to intentionality, focus on transformation within a single organization, or assign technology the role of a disruptive agent of change. Likewise, “digital” tends to be a general category of technology, rather than a specific technology enacted in a time and place. Inspired by Schatzkian practice theory and its site ontology, we suggest a contextual viewpoint on digital transformation and call it “relational digital transformation.” We analyzed the change dynamics in the context of taxi dispatch practice in Finland, studying the changing taxi dispatch platforms over years. We investigated five powerful industry actors: two incumbents, two entrants, and a federation of taxi entrepreneurs. We identified events of change in the material arrangements in sites and explain the changes through the process dynamics in the focal practice. We define relational digital transformation as a process through which practice-arrangement bundles of digital technologies evolve over time. This approach assumes the default nature of an industry is to be found in the changing relations between entities rather than in entities themselves. This provides a theoretical extension to the prevailing views of digital transformation in IS literature. It enables studying digital transformation in retrospect without attributing change agency to any entities or technologies a priori. We also contribute to practice-theoretical IS literature by demonstrating how the applicability of practice theoretical analysis extends beyond microphenomena to larger industry-level changes.

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Series: Journal of strategic information systems
ISSN: 0963-8687
ISSN-E: 1873-1198
ISSN-L: 0963-8687
Volume: 29
Issue: 3
Article number: 101622
DOI: 10.1016/j.jsis.2020.101622
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: The first author (AL) and the second author (KV) have contributed equally. They collected all the data and contributed to all phases of the project. The third (SL-S) and the fourth author (MK) have contributed to the data analysis, theory, and writing. We thank the editor-in-chief Guy Gable and the three anonymous reviewers for facilitating a developmental review process. This manuscript was previously under review in the JSIS special issue on “Strategic Perspectives on Digital Work and Organizational Transformation.” We thank the editors of the special issue, especially Mary Beth Watson-Manheim and Joao Baptista, for helping us with paper development. We are grateful to all our informants who have participated in the interviews we conducted for this study. AL and KV would like to thank the Academy of Finland (PROFI4) GenZ short-term research action for providing financial support for the data collection. KV is grateful to the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation who partly funded this research.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license(