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Managing digital infrastructures: negotiating control and drift in service provisioning

Journal article
Authors N. P. Augustsson
Agneta Nilsson
J. Holmström
L. Mathiassen
Published in International Journal of Business Information Systems
Volume 30
Issue 1
Pages 51-78
ISSN 1746-0972
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Computer Science and Engineering (GU)
Pages 51-78
Language en
Keywords Control, Digital infrastructures, Drift, Management, Services
Subject categories Computer and Information Science


The digital infrastructure literature provides important perspectives on the intrinsic relations between information systems in today’s organisations. However, little attention has been paid to the challenges involved in providing requisite digital infrastructure services to organisations. In this paper, we argue digital infrastructure service providers operate in highly complex and uncertain environments. Rather than adopting a traditional approach to control, providers must therefore continuously negotiate a balance between control and drift as two complementary strategies. Our argument is based on a retrospective longitudinal case study of a Swedish infrastructure service team within a large international firm. Using the encounter-episode process model as structuring principle and focusing on the tension between control and drift, we analyse the evolution of the provider’s efforts to manage a portfolio of digital infrastructure services over a period of ten years. Based on these analyses, we uncover the involved complexities and dynamics, how control efforts and drift were constituted and how the infrastructure services were managed by continuously balancing control and drift. In conclusion, we relate the findings to extant literature to discuss new insights into provider management of digital infrastructure services. Copyright © 2019 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

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