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Information Technology
and Organizational

Managing Behavioral Change

in the Digital Age
Third Edition

Information Technology
and Organizational

Managing Behavioral Change

in the Digital Age
Third Edition

Arthur M. Langer

CRC Press
Taylor & Francis Group
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Fo r e w o r d xi
Ac k n o w l e d g m e n t s xiii
Au t h o r xv
I n t r o d u c t I o n xvii

c h A p t e r 1 th e “ r Av e l l” c o r p o r At I o n 1
Introduction 1
A New Approach 3

The Blueprint for Integration 5
Enlisting Support 6
Assessing Progress 7

Resistance in the Ranks 8
Line Management to the Rescue 8
IT Begins to Reflect 9
Defining an Identity for Information Technology 10
Implementing the Integration: A Move toward Trust and
Reflection 12
Key Lessons 14

Defining Reflection and Learning for an Organization 14
Working toward a Clear Goal 15
Commitment to Quality 15
Teaching Staff “Not to Know” 16
Transformation of Culture 16

Alignment with Administrative Departments 17
Conclusion 19

v i Contents

c h A p t e r 2 th e It d I l e m m A 21
Introduction 21
Recent Background 23
IT in the Organizational Context 24
IT and Organizational Structure 24
The Role of IT in Business Strategy 25
Ways of Evaluating IT 27
Executive Knowledge and Management of IT 28
IT: A View from the Top 29

Section 1: Chief Executive Perception of the Role of IT 32
Section 2: Management and Strategic Issues 34
Section 3: Measuring IT Performance and Activities 35
General Results 36

Defining the IT Dilemma 36
Recent Developments in Operational Excellence 38

c h A p t e r 3 te c h n o l o gy A s A vA r I A b l e A n d re s p o n s I v e
o r g A n I z At I o n A l d y n A m I s m 41
Introduction 41
Technological Dynamism 41
Responsive Organizational Dynamism 42

Strategic Integration 43
Summary 48

Cultural Assimilation 48
IT Organization Communications with “ Others” 49
Movement of Traditional IT Staff 49
Summary 51

Technology Business Cycle 52
Feasibility 53
Measurement 53
Planning 54
Implementation 55
Evolution 57
Drivers and Supporters 58

Santander versus Citibank 60
Information Technology Roles and Responsibilities 60
Replacement or Outsource 61

c h A p t e r 4 o r g A n I z At I o n A l l e A r n I n g th e o r I e s A n d
te c h n o l o gy 63
Introduction 63
Learning Organizations 72
Communities of Practice 75
Learning Preferences and Experiential Learning 83
Social Discourse and the Use of Language 89

Identity 91
Skills 92

v iiContents

Emotion 92
Linear Development in Learning Approaches 96

c h A p t e r 5 m A n A g I n g o r g A n I z At I o n A l l e A r n I n g A n d
te c h n o l o gy 109
The Role of Line Management 109

Line Managers 111
First-Line Managers 111
Supervisor 111

Management Vectors 112
Knowledge Management 116
Ch ange Management 120
Change Management for IT Organizations 123
Social Networks and Information Technology 134

c h A p t e r 6 o r g A n I z At I o n A l tr A n s F o r m At I o n A n d t h e
bA l A n c e d s c o r e c A r d 139
Introduction 139
Methods of Ongoing Evaluation 146
Balanced Scorecards and Discourse 156
Knowledge Creation, Culture, and Strategy 158

c h A p t e r 7 vI r t uA l te A m s A n d o u t s o u r c I n g 163
Introduction 163
Status of Virtual Teams 165
Management Considerations 166
Dealing with Multiple Locations 166

Externalization 169
Internalization 171
Combination 171
Socialization 172
Externalization Dynamism 172
Internalization Dynamism 173
Combination Dynamism 173
Socialization Dynamism 173

Dealing with Multiple Locations and Outsourcing 177
Revisiting Social Discourse 178
Identity 179
Skills 180
Emotion 181

c h A p t e r 8 sy n e r g I s t I c u n I o n o F It A n d
o r g A n I z At I o n A l l e A r n I n g 187
Introduction 187
Siemens AG 187

Aftermath 202
ICAP 203

v iii Contents

Five Years Later 224
HTC 225

IT History at HTC 226
Interactions of the CEO 227
The Process 228
Transformation from the Transition 229
Five Years Later 231

Summary 233

c h A p t e r 9 Fo r m I n g A c y b e r s e c u r I t y c u lt u r e 239
Introduction 239
History 239
Talking to the Board 241
Establishing a Security Culture 241
Understanding What It Means to be Compromised 242
Cyber Security Dynamism and Responsive Organizational
Dynamism 242
Cyber Strategic Integration 243
Cyber Cultural Assimilation 245
Summary 246
Organizational Learning and Application Development 246
Cyber Security Risk 247
Risk Responsibility 248
Driver /Supporter Implications 250

c h A p t e r 10 d I g I tA l tr A n s F o r m At I o n A n d c h A n g e s I n
c o n s u m e r b e h Av I o r 251
Introduction 251
Requirements without Users and without Input 254
Concepts of the S-Curve and Digital Transformation
Analysis and Design 258
Organizational Learning and the S-Curve 260
Communities of Practice 261
The IT Leader in the Digital Transformation Era 262
How Technology Disrupts Firms and Industries 264

Dynamism and Digital Disruption 264
Critical Components of “ Digital” Organization 265
Assimilating Digital Technology Operationally and Culturally 267
Conclusion 268

c h A p t e r 11 I n t e g r At I n g g e n e r At I o n y e m p l oy e e s t o
Ac c e l e r At e c o m p e t I t I v e A dvA n tA g e 269
Introduction 269
The Employment Challenge in the Digital Era 270
Gen Y Population Attributes 272
Advantages of Employing Millennials to Support Digital
Transformation 272
Integration of Gen Y with Baby Boomers and Gen X 273

i xContents

Designing the Digital Enterprise 274
Assimilating Gen Y Talent from Underserved and Socially
Excluded Populations 276
Langer Workforce Maturity Arc 277

Theoretical Constructs of the LWMA 278
The LWMA and Action Research 281

Implications for New Pathways for Digital Talent 282
Demographic Shifts in Talent Resources 282
Economic Sustainability 283
Integration and Trust 283

Global Implications for Sources of Talent 284
Conclusion 284

c h A p t e r 12 to wA r d b e s t p r A c t I c e s 287
Introduction 287
Chief IT Executive 288
Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in
the Chief IT Executive Best Practices Arc 297

Maturity Stages 297
Performance Dimensions 298

Chief Executive Officer 299
CIO Direct Reporting to the CEO 305
Outsourcing 306
Centralization versus Decentralization of IT 306
CIO Needs Advanced Degrees 307
Need for Standards 307
Risk Management 307

The CEO Best Practices Technology Arc 313
Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in
the CEO Technology Best Practices Arc 314

Maturity Stages 314
Performance Dimensions 315

Middle Management 316
The Middle Management Best Practices Technology Arc 323

Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in
the Middle Manager Best Practices Arc 325

Maturity Stages 325
Performance Dimensions 326

Summary 327
Ethics and Maturity 333

c h A p t e r 13 c o n c l u s I o n s 339
Introduction 339

g l o s s A ry 357
re F e r e n c e s 363
I n d e x 373

x i


Digital technologies are transforming the global economy. Increasingly,
firms and other organizations are assessing their opportunities, develop-
ing and delivering products and services, and interacting with custom-
ers and other stakeholders digitally. Established companies recognize
that digital technologies can help them operate their businesses with
greater speed and lower costs and, in many cases, offer their custom-
ers opportunities to co-design and co-produce products and services.
Many start-up companies use digital technologies to develop new prod-
ucts and business models that disrupt the present way of doing busi-
ness, taking customers away from firms that cannot change and adapt.
In recent years, digital technology and new business models have dis-
rupted one industry after another, and these developments are rapidly
transforming how people communicate, learn, and work.

Against this backdrop, the third edition of Arthur Langer’ s
Information Technology and Organizational Learning is most welcome.
For decades, Langer has been studying how firms adapt to new or
changing conditions by increasing their ability to incorporate and use
advanced information technologies. Most organizations do not adopt
new technology easily or readily. Organizational inertia and embed-
ded legacy systems are powerful forces working against the adoption
of new technology, even when the advantages of improved technology
are recognized. Investing in new technology is costly, and it requires

x ii Foreword

aligning technology with business strategies and transforming cor-
porate cultures so that organization members use the technology to
become more productive.

Information Technology and Organizational Learning addresses these
important issues— and much more. There are four features of the new
edition that I would like to draw attention to that, I believe, make
this a valuable book. First, Langer adopts a behavioral perspective
rather than a technical perspective. Instead of simply offering norma-
tive advice about technology adoption, he shows how sound learn-
ing theory and principles can be used to incorporate technology into
the organization. His discussion ranges across the dynamic learning
organization, knowledge management, change management, com-
munities of practice, and virtual teams. Second, he shows how an
organization can move beyond technology alignment to true technol-
ogy integration. Part of this process involves redefining the traditional
support role of the IT department to a leadership role in which IT
helps to drive business strategy through a technology-based learn-
ing organization. Third, the book contains case studies that make the
material come alive. The book begins with a comprehensive real-life
case that sets the stage for the issues to be resolved, and smaller case
illustrations are sprinkled throughout the chapters, to make concepts
and techniques easily understandable. Lastly, Langer has a wealth of
experience that he brings to his book. He spent more than 25 years
as an IT consultant and is the founder of the Center for Technology
Management at Columbia University, where he directs certificate and
executive programs on various aspects of technology innovation and
management. He has organized a vast professional network of tech-
nology executives whose companies serve as learning laboratories for
his students and research. When you read the book, the knowledge
and insight gained from these experiences is readily apparent.

If you are an IT professional, Information Technology and Organi­
zational Learning should be required reading. However, anyone who
is part of a firm or agency that wants to capitalize on the opportunities
provided by digital technology will benefit from reading the book.

Charles C. Snow
Professor Emeritus, Penn State University

Co­Editor, Journal of Organization Design

x iii


Many colleagues and clients have provided significant support during
the development of the third edition of Information Technology and
Organizational Learning.

I owe much to my colleagues at Teachers College, namely, Professor
Victoria Marsick and Lyle Yorks, who guided me on many of the the-
ories on organizational learning, and Professor Lee Knefelkamp, for
her ongoing mentorship on adult learning and developmental theo-
ries. Professor David Thomas from the Harvard Business School also
provided valuable direction on the complex issues surrounding diver-
sity, and its importance in workforce development.

I appreciate the corporate executives who agreed to participate
in the studies that allowed me to apply learning theories to actual
organizational practices. Stephen McDermott from ICAP provided
invaluable input on how chief executive officers (CEOs) can success-
fully learn to manage emerging technologies. Dana Deasy, now global
chief information officer (CIO) of JP Morgan Chase, contributed
enormous information on how corporate CIOs can integrate tech-
nology into business strategy. Lynn O’ Connor Vos, CEO of Grey
Healthcare, also showed me how technology can produce direct mon-
etary returns, especially when the CEO is actively involved.

And, of course, thank you to my wonderful students at Columbia
University. They continue to be at the core of my inspiration and love
for writing, teaching, and scholarly research.

x v


Arthur M. Langer, EdD, is professor of professional practice
of management and the director of the Center for Technology
Management at Columbia University. He is the academic direc-
tor of the Executive Masters of Science program in Technology
Management, vice chair of faculty and executive advisor to the dean
at the School of Professional Studies and is on the faculty of the
Department of Organization and Leadership at the Graduate School
of Education (Teachers College). He has also served as a member of
the Columbia University Faculty Senate. Dr. Langer is the author
of Guide to Software Development: Designing & Managing the Life
Cycle. 2nd Edition (2016), Strategic IT: Best Practices for Managers
and Executives (2013 with Lyle Yorks), Information Technology and
Organizational Learning (2011), Analysis and Design of Information
Systems (2007), Applied Ecommerce (2002), and The Art of Analysis
(1997), and has numerous published articles and papers, relating
to digital transformation, service learning for underserved popula-
tions, IT organizational integration, mentoring, and staff develop-
ment. Dr. Langer consults with corporations and universities on
information technology, cyber security, staff development, man-
agement transformation, and curriculum development around the
Globe. Dr. Langer is also the chairman and founder of Workforce
Opportunity Services (, a non-profit social venture

x v i Author

that provides scholarships and careers to underserved populations
around the world.

Dr. Langer earned a BA in computer science, an MBA in
accounting/finance, and a Doctorate of Education from Columbia

x v ii



Information technology (IT) has become a more significant part of
workplace operations, and as a result, information systems person-
nel are key to the success of corporate enterprises, especially with
the recent effects of the digital revolution on every aspect of business
and social life (Bradley & Nolan, 1998; Langer, 1997, 2011; Lipman-
Blumen, 1996). This digital revolution is defined as a form of “ dis-
ruption.” Indeed, the big question facing many enterprises today is,
How can executives anticipate the unexpected threats brought on by
technological advances that could devastate their business? This book
focuses on the vital role that information and digital technology orga-
nizations need to play in the course of organizational development
and learning, and on the growing need to integrate technology fully
into the processes of workplace organizational learning. Technology
personnel have long been criticized for their inability to function as
part of the business, and they are often seen as a group outside the
corporate norm (Schein, 1992). This is a problem of cultural assimila-
tion, and it represents one of the two major fronts that organizations
now face in their efforts to gain a grip on the new, growing power of
technology, and to be competitive in a global world. The other major

x v iii IntroduCtIon

front concerns the strategic integration of new digital technologies
into business line management.

Because technology continues to change at such a rapid pace, the
ability of organizations to operate within a new paradigm of dynamic
change emphasizes the need to employ action learning as a way to
build competitive learning organizations in the twenty-first century.
Information Technology and Organizational Learning integrates some
of the fundamental issues bearing on IT today with concepts from
organizational learning theory, providing comprehensive guidance,
based on real-life business experiences and concrete research.

This book also focuses on another aspect of what IT can mean to
an organization. IT represents a broadening dimension of business life
that affects everything we do inside an organization. This new reality is
shaped by the increasing and irreversible dissemination of technology.
To maximize the usefulness of its encroaching presence in everyday
business affairs, organizations will require an optimal understanding
of how to integrate technology into everything they do. To this end,
this book seeks to break new ground on how to approach and concep-
tualize this salient issue— that is, that the optimization of information
and digital technologies is best pursued with a synchronous imple-
mentation of organizational learning concepts. Furthermore, these
concepts cannot be implemented without utilizing theories of strategic
learning. Therefore, this book takes the position that technology liter-
acy requires individual and group strategic learning if it is to transform
a business into a technology-based learning organization. Technology­
based organizations are defined as those that have implemented a means
of successfully integrating technology into their process of organiza-
tional learning. Such organizations recognize and experience the real-
ity of technology as part of their everyday business function. It is what
many organizations are calling “ being digital.”

This book will also examine some of the many existing organi-
zational learning theories, and the historical problems that have
occurred with companies that have used them, or that have failed
to use them. Thus, the introduction of technology into organizations
actually provides an opportunity to reassess and reapply many of the
past concepts, theories, and practices that have been used to support
the importance of organizational learning. It is important, however,
not to confuse this message with a reason for promoting organizational

x i xIntroduCtIon

learning, but rather, to understand the seamless nature of the relation-
ship between IT and organizational learning. Each needs the other to
succeed. Indeed, technology has only served to expose problems that
have existed in organizations for decades, e.g., the inability to drive
down responsibilities to the operational levels of the organization, and
to be more agile with their consumers.

This book is designed to help businesses and individual manag-
ers understand and cope with the many issues involved in developing
organizational learning programs, and in integrating an important
component: their IT and digital organizations. It aims to provide a
combination of research case studies, together with existing theories
on organizational learning in the workplace. The goal is also to pro-
vide researchers and corporate practitioners with a book that allows
them to incorporate a growing IT infrastructure with their exist-
ing workforce culture. Professional organizations need to integrate
IT into their organizational processes to compete effectively in the
technology-driven business climate of today. This book responds to
the complex and various dilemmas faced by many human resource
managers and corporate executives regarding how to actually deal
with many marginalized technology personnel who somehow always
operate outside the normal flow of the core business.

While the history of IT, as a marginalized organization, is rela-
tively short, in comparison to that of other professions, the problems
of IT have been consistent since its insertion into business organiza-
tions in the early 1960s. Indeed, while technology has changed, the
position and valuation of IT have continued to challenge how execu-
tives manage it, account for it, and, most important, ultimately value
its contributions to the organization. Technology personnel continue
to be criticized for their inability to function as part of the business,
and they are often seen as outside the business norm. IT employees
are frequently stereotyped as “ techies,” and are segregated in such a
way that they become isolated from the organization. This book pro-
vides a method for integrating IT, and redefining its role in organiza-
tions, especially as a partner in formulating and implementing key
business strategies that are crucial for the survival of many companies
in the new digital age. Rather than provide a long and extensive list of
common issues, I have decided it best to uncover the challenges of IT
integration and performance through the case study approach.

x x IntroduCtIon

IT continues to be one of the most important yet least understood
departments in an organization. It has also become one of the most
significant components for competing in the global markets of today.
IT is now an integral part of the way companies become successful,
and is now being referred to as the digital arm of the business. This
is true across all industries. The role of IT has grown enormously in
companies throughout the world, and it has a mission to provide stra-
tegic solutions that can make companies more competitive. Indeed,
the success of IT, and its ability to operate as part of the learning
organization, can mean the difference between the success and failure
of entire companies. However, IT must be careful that it is not seen as
just a factory of support personnel, and does not lose its justification
as driving competitive advantage. We see in many organizations that
other digital-based departments are being created, due to frustration
with the traditional IT culture, or because they simply do not see IT
as meeting the current needs for operating in a digital economy.

This book provides answers to other important questions that have
challenged many organizations for decades. First, how can manag-
ers master emerging digital technologies, sustain a relationship with
organizational learning, and link it to strategy and performance?
Second, what is the process by which to determine the value of using
technology, and how does it relate to traditional ways of calculating
return on investment, and establishing risk models? Third, what are
the cyber security implications of technology-based products and
services? Fourth, what are the roles and responsibilities of the IT
executive, and the department in general? To answer these questions,
managers need to focus on the following objectives:

• Address the operational weaknesses in organizations, in
terms of how to deal with new technologies, and how to bet-
ter realize business benefits.

• Provide a mechanism that both enables organizations to deal
with accelerated change caused by technological innovations,
and integrates them into a new cycle of processing, and han-
dling of change.

• Provide a strategic learning framework, by which every new
technology variable adds to organizational knowledge and
can develop a risk and security culture.

x x iIntroduCtIon

• Establish an integrated approach that ties technology account-
ability to other measurable outcomes, using organizational
learning techniques and theories.

To realize these objectives, organizations must be able to

• create dynamic internal processes that can deal, on a daily
basis, with understanding the potential fit of new technologies
and their overall value within the structure of the business;

• provide the discourse to bridge the gaps between IT- and non-
IT-related investments, and uses, into one integrated system;

• monitor investments and determine modifications to the life

• implement various organizational learning practices, includ-
ing learning organization, knowledge management, change
management, and communities of practice, all of which help
foster strategic thinking, and learning, and can be linked to
performance (Gephardt & Marsick, 2003).

The strengths of this book are that it integrates theory and practice
and provides answers to the four common questions mentioned. Many
of the answers provided in these pages are founded on theory and
research and are supported by practical experience. Thus, evidence of
the performance of the theories is presented via case studies, which
are designed to assist the readers in determining how such theories
and proven practices can be applied to their specific organization.

A common theme in this book involves three important terms:
dynamic , unpredictable , and acceleration . Dynamic is a term that rep-
resents spontaneous and vibrant things— a motive force. Technology
behaves with such a force and requires organizations to deal with its
capabilities. Glasmeier (1997) postulates that technology evolution,
innovation, and change are dynamic processes. The force then is tech-
nology, and it carries many motives, as we shall see throughout this
book. Unpredictable suggests that we cannot plan what will happen
or will be needed. Many organizational individuals, including execu-
tives, have attempted to predict when, how, or why technology will
affect their organization. Throughout our recent history, especially
during the “ digital disruption” era, we have found that it is difficult,
if not impossible, to predict how technology will ultimately benefit or

x x ii IntroduCtIon

hurt organizational growth and competitive advantage. I believe that
technology is volatile and erratic at times. Indeed, harnessing tech-
nology is not at all an exact science; certainly not in the ways in which
it can and should be used in today’ s modern organization. Finally, I
use the term acceleration to convey the way technology is speeding up
our lives. Not only have emerging technologies created this unpre-
dictable environment of change, but they also continue to change it
rapidly— even from the demise of the dot-com era decades ago. Thus,
what becomes important is the need to respond quickly to technology.
The inability to be responsive to change brought about by technologi-
cal innovations can result in significant competitive disadvantages for

This new edition shows why this is a fact especially when examining
the shrinking S-Curve. So, we look at these three words— dynamic,
unpredictable, and acceleration— as a way to define how technology
affects organizations; that is, technology is an accelerating motive
force that occurs irregularly. These words name the challenges that
organizations need to address if they are to manage technological
innovations and integrate them with business strategy and competi-
tive advantage. It only makes sense that the challenge of integrating
technology into business requires us first to understand its potential
impact, determine how it occurs, and see what is likely to follow.
There are no quick remedies to dealing with emerging technologies,
just common practices and sustained processes that must be adopted
for organizations to survive in the future.

I had four goals in mind in writing this book. First, I am inter-
ested in writing about the challenges of using digital technologies
strategically. What particularly concerns me is the lack of literature
that truly addresses this issue. What is also troublesome is the lack
of reliable techniques …

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