Enterprise Architecture in the Public Sector: Adoption and Institutionalization

Duong D. Dang

    Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles

    1030 Downloads (Pure)


    Today’s organizations are utilizing technologies for building effectiveness management and services due to struggles with the various challenges of the information and communication technology age, such as integration, interoperability, agility, and change. Many view the enterprise architecture (EA) approach as a promising solution for coping with those challenges. Organizations also see the benefits of EA in dealing with other challenges, such as effective strategic planning, improved decision-making, and better business and information technology alignment. These benefits have led to an increased number of organizations adopting EA around the world, and some countries even have a law on EA, such as Finland and the US.

    Despite those EA benefits, EA practices pose a wide range of problems, from social to business to technological. Moreover, organizations that adopt EA struggle with limited signs of success, extremely slow utilization, and ineffective institutionalization. Although there are various studies on the matter, they tend to focus their efforts on working with the framework and its related issues, such as EA’s layers, methodologies, and tools. As a result, a comprehensive study about how EA gets adopted into organizations seems overlooked. The few exceptions, however, focus more on the outcomes rather than on insights into EA adoption, such as issues related to the root causes of problems, strategies for effective EA adoption, and the institutionalization process.

    Examining those issues would strengthen the theoretical foundation of EA adoption. It also could help practitioners improve the effectiveness of their EA adoption, as EA itself offers no value if it is not used in practice. Therefore, this research focuses on understanding insights into how EA gets adopted into organizations with dual studies. First is a study on the root causes of the problems and strategies for the effective adoption of EA in organizations. Second is a study on institutionalization processes when organizations adopt EA.

    The findings indicate several issues in EA adoption and institutionalization. First, there are several root causes from organizations, project teams, users, and EA itself. Second, there are various strategies and characteristics for effective adoption of EA practices. Third, different institutional pressures influence the institutionalization process in different phases. That process is influenced by differing institutional logic, and the perceptions and assumptions of senior managers about EA play important roles in EA adoption.

    The dissertation contributes to the literature by explaining what happens when organizations adopt EA. That is, it helps understand the problems, the institutional pressures in different phases of EA adoption, and the strategies for overcoming these challenges when organizations adopt EA. It also provides insights into the institutionalization process, when EA functionalities and features become the norms in practice. In addition, the research has implications for practice by providing several root causes of the problems and the different institutional features related to the stakeholders involved in the different phases of EA adoption. Furthermore, the study provides various legitimacy strategies that practitioners need to consider when they adopt EA. Even though there are similar strategies in organizations, they appear differently in practice. Finally, the study also identifies the importance of cognitive-cultural legitimacy for EA initiatives, meaning that EA practices depend on the stakeholders’ backgrounds, cultures, and characteristics.

    This dissertation is article-based and contains six peer-reviewed articles. The interpretive case study approach is used, and the empirical part of the study is based on four case studies at local government and ministerial levels within a country.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    Number of pages79
    ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-4138-4
    ISBN (Print)978-952-15-4133-9
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018
    Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

    Publication series

    NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
    ISSN (Print)1459-2045


    • enterprise architecture
    • enterprise architecture adoption
    • institutional theory
    • institutionalization
    • legitimacy strategy


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