Title: Managing digital infrastructures: negotiating control and drift in service provisioning

Authors: Nils-Petter Augustsson; Agneta Nilsson; Jonny Holmström; Lars Mathiassen

Addresses: Swedish Center for Digital Innovation, Department of Informatics, Industrial Doctorate School, Umea University, SE-901 87 Umea, Sweden ' University of Gothenburg, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden;Chalmers University of Technology, Box 100, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden ' Swedish Center for Digital Innovation, Department of Informatics, Umea University, SE-901 87 Umea, Sweden ' Computer Information Systems, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, 33 Gilmer Street SE Atlanta, GA 30302, USA

Abstract: The digital infrastructure literature provides important perspectives on the intrinsic relations between information systems in today's organisations. However, little attention has been paid to the challenges involved in providing requisite digital infrastructure services to organisations. In this paper, we argue digital infrastructure service providers operate in highly complex and uncertain environments. Rather than adopting a traditional approach to control, providers must therefore continuously negotiate a balance between control and drift as two complementary strategies. Our argument is based on a retrospective longitudinal case study of a Swedish infrastructure service team within a large international firm. Using the encounter-episode process model as structuring principle and focusing on the tension between control and drift, we analyse the evolution of the provider's efforts to manage a portfolio of digital infrastructure services over a period of ten years. Based on these analyses, we uncover the involved complexities and dynamics, how control efforts and drift were constituted and how the infrastructure services were managed by continuously balancing control and drift. In conclusion, we relate the findings to extant literature to discuss new insights into provider management of digital infrastructure services.

Keywords: digital infrastructures; services; management; control and drift.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2019.10011530

International Journal of Business Information Systems, 2019 Vol.30 No.1, pp.51 - 78

Received: 02 Apr 2016
Accepted: 07 Apr 2017

Published online: 17 Dec 2018 *

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