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Abstract

In this paper, we address the question: “which conditions enable successful information infrastructure innovation?”. Information infrastructures are characterized by nonlinear evolutionary dynamics. Based on a case study that examines the design, development, and initial use of a web-based solution for patient-hospital communication at a Norwegian hospital over a ten-year period, we trace the evolution of a new II. This longitudinal analysis takes installed base cultivation as its conceptual basis. Specifically, we draw on three aspects of a cultivation strategy: growth process, user mobilization, and learning to cultivate. The analysis shows how the solution started as a bottom-up initiative of a small and motivated team at the hospital IT department, and how it grew gradually in a flexible and evolutionary way. Our findings support the argument that successful infrastructure innovations are based on a cultivation strategy addressing specific users’ needs, usefulness, and evolutionary growth. We make three key contributions to information infrastructure research. First, we expose the role architecture plays in the growth of IIs. Second, we provide insights about cultivating IIs, especially in their bootstrap phase. Third, we identify three different but interrelated types of innovation—in, of, on infrastructure—that articulate the critical role of IIs architecture in enabling successful innovation.

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