A Systemic-Discursive Framework for Enterprise Architecture

This article examines, through a case study of an Australian government agency, the systemic and discursive properties of Enterprise Architecture adoption in a government enterprise. Through the lens of Luhmann’s generalised systems theory of communication, the authors argue that the manner in which organisational communication is organised throughout the Enterprise Architecture adoption process has a noticeable impact on successful implementation. Two important conclusions are made: Firstly, successful Enterprise Architecture adoption demands sustainable resonance of Enterprise Architecture as a discourse communicated in the enterprise. Secondly, misunderstanding and reshaping Enterprise Architecture as a management discourse is an inherent premise for high quality adoption. The authors propose a new theoretical model, the Enterprise Communication Ecology, as a metaphor for the communicative processes that precede, constrain, and shape Enterprise Architecture implementations. As a result, Enterprise Architecture as a discipline must adopt a systemic-discursive framework in order to fully understand and improve the quality of Enterprise Architecture management programs.

The Social Dimension of Enterprise Architecture in Government

Citizens’ rising demands and expectations concerning both the quality and equality of public services are increasing pressure on the Finnish public administration to improve its efficiency and responsiveness. An enacted act on Information Management Governance in public administration declares Enterprise Architecture (abbreviated EA) as a central tool for developing administration’s services. EA is seen as a strategic management tool standardising the development of administration and exploitation of Information and Communication Technologies (abbreviated ICT). The new act demands agencies to apply EA yet there exists relatively limited knowledge and experience of the concept. Since EA is an abstract and complex tool there is great risk that the expectations put on EA are not met. The large numbers of agencies demanded to apply this tool increases the significance of the problem. This article is based on a case study research where the goal was to identify issues of EA use and adoption, to gain understanding why these issues exist and to recommend ways of improving the perceived value of EA. The focus was on the social dimension of alignment since most existing studies have emphasised the technical dimension. The study approaches the problem from the perspective of strategic management and organisational learning. EA is treated as a mechanism and a strategy tool to enable alignment of business and IT. EA adoption presents a learning challenge to an organisation – it has to learn the intellectual content but more importantly, it has to learn how to cooperate and share information across functional, hierarchical and professional boundaries.

When Enterprise Architecture Meets Government: An Institutional Case Study Analysis

This study investigates the systemic challenges facing enterprise architecture programs in government. Drawing upon the institutional theory lens from the political science field, a Danish case study is used to explore why public agencies implement enterprise architecture programs and the challenges they face when governing these programs at different levels (vertically) and different functions (horizontally) of government. The analysis shows that enterprise architecture is not just a technical issue, as economic and political facts are equally important when establishing interoperable e-government services. The findings suggest that implementing enterprise architectures in government challenges the way information systems are organized and governed in public agencies. Interoperability challenges in government arise because there is no overall coordination of different information systems initiatives in the public sector and because public organization have no economic and/or immediate political incentives to share data and business functionality with other organizations in their enterprise architecture programs.