Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Countries worldwide have employed various digital solutions to contain and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this explorative case research, we examine national-level digital responses to the pandemic in four specific areas—tracking and tracing, health data reporting, teleconsultation, and vaccination mobilization—across five countries: China, Denmark, Germany, South Korea, and the US. Drawing on the notion of agility and digital infrastructures, our cross-case analysis unveils how the countries’ digital responses to the pandemic have been shaped by their national health system characteristics. In addition, we highlight how existing digital health infrastructures, regulatory adaptations, and industry collaborations fostered the alacrity with which nations responded to the pandemic. We define national-level digital agility as the ability of a nation to leverage digital infrastructure capabilities to address urgent societal challenges in a contextually appropriate way. Our key contribution is a model of this complex, but urgently needed concept containing five building blocks, that jointly explain and contribute to building such agility. Despite focusing on addressing the existing challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that researchers and policymakers can also take away from our framework ideas to tackle other socio-environmental challenges.





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