Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Exogenous shocks, such as COVID-19, significantly change fundamental premises on which economies and individual organizations operate. The light-asset nature of digital technologies provides the potential to not only facilitate an immediate crisis response, but also to catalyze novel innovation types to address the societal and economic changes caused by exogenous shocks. As digital innovation became a relevant part of organizations’ COVID-19 responses, and given that a corresponding structured knowledge base did not exist, we found the need to better understand crisis-driven digital innovation. Drawing on prior knowledge from crisis management and organizational ambidexterity as a theoretical lens, we present four patterns of crisis-driven digital innovation, classified along two dimensions: (1) driven by a sense of urgency or ambition and (2) focusing on exploitative or explorative innovation. Based on a thorough analysis of digital innovation cases during the COVID-19 crisis, we illustrate and discuss these four patterns and their emerging properties to explain how and why they led to digital innovation in the context of the crisis. Our work contributes to the explanatory knowledge on digital innovation in times of crisis, helping researchers and practitioners to understand and develop digital innovation in response to exogenous shocks.





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