Understanding the transformation of the information technology function


  • Manon G. Guillemette University of Sherbrooke Quebec
  • Guy Paré HEC Montreal




Information technology function, transformation, theory of punctuated equilibrium, qualitative research, theory building.


IT functions have changed considerably since they first appeared in organizations, but few researchers have tried to develop a better understanding of how they were transformed. The goal of this article is to explore the question: How and why do IT functions in organizations transform? To this end, we developed a conceptual framework built around a typology of the IT function and based on the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Two case studies were conducted in companies from different industries. Our results suggest that IT functions are transformed in response to various forces, designated as secondary forces, that push IT functions toward change, but only when these secondary forces are influencing the primary forces. These primary forces are: 1) the organization’s vision of the potential of technological tools, 2) the CIO’s participation in strategic decision-making, and 3) the level of knowledge of information systems among members of the management team. When these secondary forces have no effect on the primary forces, the IT function continues to be described by the same ideal profile. This study fills a gap in the literature on information systems by proposing a rich, yet parsimonious theoretical explanation of the transformation dynamic experienced by IT functions in organizations.





Empirical research