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Abstract

This paper explores the use of information technology to support business innovation with particular attention to human and organisational issues. A theoretical framework is developed for examining IT adoption which is guided at the meta-level by the principles of structuration theory, but explicitly utilises the more familiar perspectives of culture, learning, and leadership in analysing an in-depth case study of the adoption of EDI in the London Insurance Market. The findings from the case study suggest that the initiation activities of innovation were facilitated by visionary leadership and legitimised by crisis in the market. In addition, a counterculture proved to be important in co-ordinating the innovation activities. However, conflicting interpretive schemes held by market participants as to how the new technology should be appropriated hindered organizational learning. Furthermore, leaders encountered difficulties in gaining commitment to their vision from market participants who anticipated unwelcome changes in power relations related to the introduction of the new technology. These elements contributed to a slow adoption process. The theoretical framework, together with the case findings, offer new insights on the adoption of IT to support business innovation, with a particular focus on large aggregates such as a market or industry.

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