Institutionalization of Contested Practices: A Case of Enterprise Architecture Implementation in a US State Government
Information Systems (IS) practices are often ‘institutionally contested’ when introduced into organizations. They run counter to the status quo and disrupt organizational stability. Furthermore, they contravene the normative, regulatory, and cultural-cognitive legitimacy in existing institutionalized processes. This research explores contested practices, examining the struggles and techniques IS organizations use to legitimize and institutionalize them. Using an institutional change and translation perspective, we investigate a case of Enterprise Architecture (EA) implementations in a US state government, highlighting the struggles in translating new practices to connect to potential users and in connecting new practices to existing norms, regulations, and cultural values. We elucidate two key techniques to overcome these struggles: inductive communication to make new practices relatable to users, and the deployment of experts to local contexts to facilitate knowledge transfer. The research shows how institutional change unfolds and informs practitioners of how to legitimize EA practices.