University of Oulu

Johan Magnusson, Dina Koutsikouri & Tero Päivärinta (2020) Efficiency creep and shadow innovation: enacting ambidextrous IT Governance in the public sector, European Journal of Information Systems, 29:4, 329-349, DOI: 10.1080/0960085X.2020.1740617

Efficiency creep and shadow innovation : enacting ambidextrous IT Governance in the public sector

Saved in:
Author: Magnusson, Johan1,2; Koutsikouri, Dina1; Päivärinta, Tero3,4
Organizations: 1Swedish Center for Digital Innovation, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
2Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway
3M3S Research Group, University of Oulu, Finland
4Information Systems, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-18


The current push towards increased innovation within the public sector calls for new approaches to IT Governance. However, recent findings highlight the aim to avoid trade-offs between innovation and efficiency through organisational ambidexterity. This paper reports a case study of ambidextrous IT Governance in two large government agencies. According to the findings, ambidextrous IT Governance is enacted through two separate but interrelated mechanisms that emerge simultaneously. In terms of exploitation, the “efficiency creep” mechanism creates a bias for efficiency — rather than innovation-oriented investments. In terms of exploration, the “shadow innovation” mechanism involves unsanctioned innovation activities. These two mechanisms interplay, in the enactment of ambidextrous IT Governance. The contribution of this study lies in theorising about how ambidextrous IT Governance is enacted in public sector organisations, and how efficiency creep and shadow innovation influence each other. This contribution aids future research and practice on public sector innovation and IT Governance.

see all

Series: European journal of information systems
ISSN: 0960-085X
ISSN-E: 1476-9344
ISSN-L: 0960-085X
Volume: 29
Issue: 4
Pages: 329 - 349
DOI: 10.1080/0960085X.2020.1740617
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.