Diffusion of IT
Diffusion is defined as the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Many prior studies on the adoption of IT, e.g., have embraced this perspective, which assumes that rational adopters make decisions and choices based on the information that is received via communication and social networks. A major pitfall of the concept of diffusion is it assumes that organizations within a group are free and independent to choose to adopt(or not to adopt) an innovation. It fails to address the institutional isomorphic processes, which can affect the decisions of organizations on the adoption of innovations. Supplementing the concept of diffusion, institutional isomorphism, which refers to ‘‘the constraining process that forces one unit in a population to resemble other units that face the same set of environmental conditions’’, provides a theoretically sound basis to explain the adoption of IT for SCM.
DiMaggio and Powell argued that institutional iso-morphism considers ‘‘the major factors that organization must take into account are other organizations’’. In addition to competing for resources and customers, organizations are competing for political power and institutional legitimacy for social and economic rewards. The implications of this theory are that organizations may base their decisions on one or more of the following mechanisms:(i) they may experience pressure from other organizations upon which they are dependent, (ii) they may mimic other organizations within their sector that they perceive to be successful,and (iii) the professional associations may exert pressure on the organiza-tions by establishing a cognitive base and legitimation for the autonomy of the industry. This theory provides a theoretical lens to explain the institutional isomorphic influences among a group of firms, e.g., firms in an SC, that face the same environmental conditions, and to advance the knowledge of IT adoption for SCM. Firms are instrumental in the institutional isomorphic processes of their SCs through the coordination and collaboration of their business processes with obligations. Institutional isomorphism occurs in the structures,interactions, practices, and dominion of the firms participating in SCs, where the parties join forces to manage their logistical activities.
Conclusions and implications
Unlike prior studies on the diffusion of IT, which assume that firms can make independent decisions to explain the adoption of IT in organizations, this article utilizes the institutional isomorphism perspective, which emphasizes the institutional isomorphic processes that exist in groups of firms to account for the adoption of IT for SCM. In particular,this article extends the theory of institutional isomorphism from the individual decision level within a company to the inter-organizational level in context of SCM. The objectives,attributes, possible drawbacks of each of the three institutional isomorphic processes and how they may influence the intra-organizational operations and inter-organizational processes among SC partners on the adoption of IT for SCM are explored.
This article highlights the view that the adoption of IT for SC activities are subject to the influence of three types of institutional isomorphic process, i.e., coercion, mimesis, and norms. From the illustrative examples,we recognize the different types of institutional isomorphism on the adoption of IT in real-life SC scenarios. It is, therefore, important to consider these institutional isomorphic processes in future studies on the adoption of IT,especially in the context of SCM. Knowledge on the adoption of IT for SCM is advanced from the institutional isomorphism perspective. This article has laid a foundation for further studies to empirically evaluate the extent of the different types of institutional isomorphism faced by both initiators and followers in their adoption of IT for managing their SCs. It would also be useful to carry out a longitudinal study to understand how the influences of the different types of institutional isomorphic processes evolve and are linked to the adoption of IT for SCM.