Enterprise architecture (EA) frameworks offer principles, models, and guidance to help one develop an EA program. Due to EA’s flexible and abstract nature, there is a proliferation of EA frameworks in practice. Yet, comparison studies to make sense of them are far from satisfactory in that they lack a theoretical foundation for comparison criteria and do not meaningfully interpret the differences. In this paper, I propose a comparison approach using EA essential elements—the underlying key features of EA programs—to distinguish EA frameworks. Based on the extant literature, I identify eight elements, each with its own theoretical justification and empirical evidence. I illustrate how to use these elements to evaluate eight popular EA frameworks. The results show three ideal types of EA frameworks: technical, operational, and strategic EA. Each type has a different focus, set of assumptions, and historical context. The essential elements offer a more systematic way to evaluate EA frameworks. In addition, they shift attention from the maturity models often used in EA development to focus on particular EA elements being implemented by organizations.
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.