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Diffusion of Modern Software Practices: Influence of Centralization and Formalization


  • Robert W. Zmud

    (University of North Carolina)


Centralization and formalization have previously been employed in research designs investigating organizational innovation. The results, however, have been mixed. Three arguments are raised toward explaining this inconsistency. First, innovation is a multi-phased process in which the influence of centralization and formalization could be expected to differ. Second, as innovations may vary with regard to their compatibility to individuals in organizations, the expected influence of centralization and formalization may also vary. Third, organizational innovations may be directed toward particular vested interests, such as the technical or administrative core. Accordingly, the influence of centralization and formalization may also vary. This paper reports on a study which examines the influence of centralization and formalization on organizational innovation given the arguments given above. The effectiveness of employing structural overlays to overcome the conflicting forces often arising between organizational processes and particular organizational behaviors---such as innovative behavior---is investigated as well. Managers of 49 software development groups responded to a questionnaire assessing the influences of centralization and formalization on the initiation, adoption, and implementation of six modern software practices (MSP) within their software groups. Three of the MSP were technical in nature and three were administrative. The technical MSP were viewed as being incompatible to the technical core. Two structural overlays were investigated regarding their ability to improve the diffusion process: the existence of a formal body responsible for identifying MSP and introducing them into the software group; and, the assignment of computer specialists to projects as "set" teams.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Zmud, 1982. "Diffusion of Modern Software Practices: Influence of Centralization and Formalization," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(12), pages 1421-1431, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:28:y:1982:i:12:p:1421-1431

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mary M. Crossan & Marina Apaydin, 2010. "A Multi-Dimensional Framework of Organizational Innovation: A Systematic Review of the Literature," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(6), pages 1154-1191, September.
    2. van Everdingen, Y.M. & Wierenga, B., 2001. "Intra-Firm Adoption Decisions," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2001-21-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    3. Justin J. P. Jansen & Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2006. "Exploratory Innovation, Exploitative Innovation, and Performance: Effects of Organizational Antecedents and Environmental Moderators," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(11), pages 1661-1674, November.
    4. Belassi, W & Fadlalla, A, 1998. "An integrative framework for FMS diffusion," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 699-713, December.
    5. Eder, Lauren B. & Igbaria, Magid, 2001. "Determinants of intranet diffusion and infusion," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 233-242, June.
    6. Wang, Eric T. G., 2001. "Linking organizational context with structure: a preliminary investigation of the information processing view," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 429-443, October.
    7. repec:dgr:rugsom:05c01 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Santoro, Michael D. & Chakrabarti, Alok K., 2002. "Firm size and technology centrality in industry-university interactions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1163-1180, September.
    9. Hackney, Ray & Xu, Huinan & Ranchhod, Ashok, 2006. "Evaluating Web Services: Towards a framework for emergent contexts," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 173(3), pages 1161-1174, September.
    10. Erumban, Abdul Azeez & de Jong, Simon B., 2006. "Cross-country differences in ICT adoption: A consequence of Culture?," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 302-314, December.
    11. Teng, James TC & Fiedler, Kirk D & Grover, Varun, 1998. "An exploratory study of the influence of the IS function and organizational context on business process reengineering project initiatives," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 679-698, December.
    12. Gopalakrishnan, S. & Damanpour, F., 1997. "A review of innovation research in economics, sociology and technology management," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 15-28, February.
    13. Thakur, Ramendra & Hsu, Sonya H.Y. & Fontenot, Gwen, 2012. "Innovation in healthcare: Issues and future trends," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 562-569.
    14. Sana Akbar Khan, 2017. "Consumer Innovation Adoption Stages and Determinants," Working Papers 03, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
    15. Rajiv D. Banker & Robert J. Kauffman, 2004. "50th Anniversary Article: The Evolution of Research on Information Systems: A Fiftieth-Year Survey of the Literature in Management Science," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(3), pages 281-298, March.
    16. Kevin Zhu & Kenneth L. Kraemer & Sean Xu, 2006. "The Process of Innovation Assimilation by Firms in Different Countries: A Technology Diffusion Perspective on E-Business," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(10), pages 1557-1576, October.
    17. Gosselin, Maurice, 1997. "The effect of strategy and organizational structure on the adoption and implementation of activity-based costing," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 105-122, February.
    18. Pullig, Chris & Maxham, James III & Hair, Joseph Jr., 2002. "Salesforce automation systems: an exploratory examination of organizational factors associated with effective implementation and salesforce productivity," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 401-415, May.
    19. Subramanian, A. & Nilakanta, S., 1996. "Organizational innovativeness: Exploring the relationship between organizational determinants of innovation, types of innovations, and measures of organizational performance," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 631-647, December.
    20. Lin, Hsiu-Fen, 2014. "Understanding the determinants of electronic supply chain management system adoption: Using the technology–organization–environment framework," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 80-92.
    21. Erumban, Abdul Azeez & Jong, Simon B. de, 2005. "Cross-country differences in ICT adoption. A consequence of Culture?," Research Report 05C01, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    22. Tzokas, Nikolaos & Hart, Susan & Argouslidis, Paris & Saren, Michael, 2000. "Strategic pricing in export markets: empirical evidence from the UK," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 95-117, February.


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