The potential of information technologyto transform organizations has been a consistent theme in the management literature since computers were first introduced commercially in the 1950s. Yet, the empirical literature on information technology's role in organizational transformation has been characterized by mixed findings across studies and contradictory results within studies. This paper treats the "problem" of contradictory findings as an opportmfity to'examine several theoretical approaches that deal directly with contradiction. The paper discusses several means to address contradictions that occur among studies and within studies, including the use of alternative theories. Four theoretical approaches with the potential to address contradictions directly are then presented. Considered are political theory, organizational culture, institutional theory, and organizational learning. Each of these theoretical approaches expressly accounts for both organizational persistence and change, and each may be located within the metatheoretical framework of structuration. Although differing in their maturity and precision, these theories may account more satisfactorily for the empirical results observed if employed to guide future research on the organizational consequences of information technology.
Robey, Daniel, "Theories that Explain Contradiction: Accounting for the Contradictory Organizational Consequences of Information Technology" (1995). ICIS 1995 Proceedings. 6.