Digital technologies are reshaping both organizations and our lives as members of society. The resulting changes are often referred to as ‘digital transformation’ (DT) - a concept that has proven difficult to define and explain theoretically. This is especially true since the nature and scope of DT is evolving beyond clearly defined organizational boundaries. Today, information technology (IT) is becoming increasingly accessible and relevant for many more members of society, creating the potential for previously unseen transformations beyond organizations. Accordingly, new theoretical lenses are needed to explain how a broader set of social actors may instigate, and are affected by, transformative change induced by IT. We here conceptualize DT as collective social action, a novel lens that aims to expand the focus of DT research beyond organizations as its unit of analysis, with a complementary perspective centered on social actors, their actions, and impact. We delineate a typology of digital transformation as collective social action that considers the locus of transformation (what?), types of social actor(s) (who?), and the underlying mechanisms (how?). Collectively, the four ideal types constitute a new theory to help apprehend, explain and predict how DT as collective social action occurs within and outside formally defined organizational boundaries.
Tana, Silviana; Breidbach, Christoph F.; and Burton-Jones, Andrew, "Digital Transformation as Collective Social Action" (2022). JAIS Preprints (Forthcoming). 71.
Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais_preprints/71