Information technology units within organizations pursue organizational reliability and agility goals. Both capabilities are imperatives for business success but there is an organizational tension arising in being agile and reliable at the same time. Reliability ensures the stability and business continuity of organizations, whereas agility helps to detect and exploit market opportunities. In our research, we study projects in 19 organizations and seek to unravel the relationship between agility and reliability. We observe that in certain cases reliability can undermine agility and vice versa. Global rules, routines, and procedures can hinder organizational agility whereas responding creatively for agility can locally undermine global organizational reliability. Further, we find that organizations often use decoupling to deal with this trade-off. Although decoupling enables them to be agile and reliable at the same time, it risks undermining both capabilities in the future, by encouraging the accumulation of technical debt. We find indications of how technical debt limits opportunities to creatively respond and increases vul-nerabilities.
Keller, Robert; Ollig, Philipp; and Fridgen, Gilbert, (2019). "DECOUPLING, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, AND THE TRADEOFF BETWEEN ORGANIZATIONAL RELIABILITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL AGILITY". In Proceedings of the 27th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Stockholm & Uppsala, Sweden, June 8-14, 2019. ISBN 978-1-7336325-0-8 Research Papers.