Masterclass by Kalle Lyytinnen


"Innovation in Software Development and Architecture"

Date: 29 November 2004
Time 10:00 -16:00 hrs
Host: Prof.Dr. R.J. Wieringa (UT)
University of Twente
Drienerlolaan 5

The Master class will be given in English and is part of the Advanced Components Stage of the educational program for SIKS-Ph.D. Students. Therefore, they are strongly encouraged to participate. Other members of SIKS are invited too.


Participation is free, but an early registration is required. Please, send an e-mail to and inform Mrs. Corine Wesselman that you want to participate. After registration, you will receive pre-course reading material and updated information regarding the final program


Lecture 1: What is Disruptive Innovation in Software Development?
This talk makes on overview of innovation research and discusses how it relates to software development and adopting organizations. In particular it discusses the nature and impact of radical and disruptive technological innovations in software development.

Background paper 1: The Disruptive Nature of Information Technology Innovations: The Case of Internet Computing in Systems Development Organizations

Information technology (IT) innovation can be defined as the creation and new organizational application of digital computer and communication technologies. The paper suggests that IT innovation theory needs to be expanded to analyze IT innovations in kind that exhibit atypical discontinuities in IT innovation behaviors by studying two questions. First, can a model of disruptive IT innovations be created to understand qualitative changes in IT development processes and their outcomes so that they can be related to architectural discontinuities in computing capability? Second, to what extent can the observed turmoil among systems development organizations that has been spawned by Internet computing be understood as a disruptive IT innovation? To address the first question, a model of disruptive IT innovation is developed. The model defines a disruptive IT innovation as an architectural innovation originating in the information technology base that has subsequent pervasive and radical impacts on development processes and their outcomes. These base innovations establish necessary but not sufficient conditions for subsequent innovation behaviors. To address the second question, the impact of Internet computing on eight leading-edge systems development organizations in the United States and Finland is investigated. The study shows that the adoption of Internet computing in these firms has radically impacted their IT innovation both in development processes and services.

Lecture 2: Learning in High gear: Hyper-Learning and Dynamic capability in Seven Software Firms
Innovation implies adopting and deploying something new. In this way it can be regarded as instance of organizational learning. The paper outlines an organizational learning perspective on software development organizations and discusses the dilemmas of learning related to exploration vs, exploitation. A case study exploring organizational learning during fast organizational change and innovation is reported.

Background paper 2: Learning in High Gear: Hyper-learning and Dynamic Capability in Seven Software Firms

Building on the literature of dynamic capability and organizational learning, we examine strategy execution in hyper-competition as a problem of how organizations can re-configure their learning capability to match with their radically different learning demands. Organizations in hyper-competitive environments face an increasing gap between their learning opportunities and needs, and actual learning performance. In order to survive they must improve their absorptive capacity so that they can learn simultaneously broad, deep and fast. We define such a learning contingency as hyper-learning. To do so, the organization must systematically interlace exploration­that seeks to maximize learning breadth­ and exploitation­that seeks to maximize learning depth. Unlike in traditional learning cycles, exploration and exploitation during periods of hyper-learning are not insulated from each other through time or structure.

We explore seven software firms engaged in Web system development during the hey-day on frenzy and investigate how these companies were able to hyper-learn. We distinguish two mechanisms to speed up exploration: distributed gate-keeping and extended grafting of external knowledge; and two mechanisms to speed up exploitation: simple design patterns and peer networks. These mechanisms were nearly uniformly recognized in all studied organizations. We also examine the systemic configuration and patterning of these activities, which enables organizations to learn in high gear. This organizational learning model is contrasted with the punctuated equilibrium model of learning articulated in mainstream strategy research. Finally some implications for future research and management practice are drawn.

Lecture 3: How does innovation take place in the context of networks of organizations?
Most research on IT impacts and IT innovation has focused on a singular firm. In this paper we report a study which had to adopt a wider and more encompassing view of innovation which spans over networks of organizations. The study is based on actor network theory.

Background paper 3: Path Creation with Digital 3D Representations: Networks of Innovation in Architectural Design and Construction

Using the ideas of path dependence and path creation, we examine the wake of innovations in Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) associated with the adoption of digital three-dimensional (3D) representations. We argue that prevailing practices in AEC will be disrupted by path creating 3D technology appropriations within networks of professional communities. The work of architect Frank Gehry offers us an exemplar of this path creating use of digital 3D representations. We report on a retrospective study of 3D representation-enabled innovation during the design and construction of the Peter B. Lewis Building. Our analysis suggests that a complex information technology innovation, like the use of digital 3D representations, cannot be adequately understood as a singular adoption event. Instead, a more holistic and integrated view of the innovation process is required: one that sees innovation as the mindful deviation from established practices by multiple actors across the boundaries of professional communities. Through a historical, path dependent process, the diverse communities of AEC professionals involved in large scale building projects have formed loosely coupled systems of communication based on 2D representations to mediate their interaction and distribute risk. Our study shows how the path creating use of digital 3D representations broke down this path dependent loosely coupled system. In appropriating the potential of digital 3D representations, actors who were traditionally isolated became mindfully deviant in creating a tightly coupled system. This tightly coupled system was enacted with rich and complex boundary objects enabled by digital 3D representations, and involved radiant changes in work practices, organization structures, strategies, and professional identities. Our study suggests that large-scale innovations with information technology take place through a distributed network of actors engaged in both path dependent and path creating behaviors.

Curriculum vitae
Kalle Lyytinen is Iris S. Wolstein professor at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. He serves also as an adjunct professor at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He serves currently on the editorial boards of several leading IS journals including, AIS journal (Senior Editor), Information Systems Research, JSIS, Information & Organization, Requirements Engineering Journal, and Information Systems Journal among others. He has published over 150 scientific articles and conference papers and edited or written eight books on topics related to system design, method engineering, implementation, software risk assessment, computer supported cooperative work, standardization, and ubiquitous computing. He is currently involved in research projects that look at the IT induced innovation in software development, architecture and construction industry, design and use of ubiquitous applications in health care, and is developing a high level requirements model for large scale systems. He is also studying in a global scale the development and adoption of broadband wireless standards and services, where his recent studies have focused on South Korea and the U.S. He teaches e-business, mobile business and digital law classes. His research interests include information system theories, computer aided system design and method engineering, system failures and risk assessment, computer supported cooperative work, nomadic computing, and the innovation and diffusion of complex technologies and the role of institutions in such processes.


By public transport: Train to Hengelo, then bus 3 to Enschede (Glanerbrug).
By car: Take the A1 in the direction of Hengelo, then the A35 in the direction of Enschede. Exit 26 ''Enschede-West''. ATurn left at the traffic lights and follow the signs ''Universiteit''.