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Information Technology
and Organizational
Learning
Managing Behavioral Change
in the Digital Age
Third Edition
Information Technology
and Organizational
Learning
Managing Behavioral Change
in the Digital Age
Third Edition
Arthur M. Langer
CRC Press
Taylor & Francis Group
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Boca Raton, FL 33487-2742
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Contents
xi
Fo re wo rd
Acknowledgments
xiii
xv
Author
Introduction
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
Introduction
A New Approach
The Blueprint for Integration
Enlisting Support 
Assessing Progress
Resistance in the Ranks
Line Management to the Rescue
IT Begins to Reflect
Defining an Identity for Information Technology
Implementing the Integration: A Move toward Trust and
Reflection
Key Lessons 
Defining Reflection and Learning for an Organization 
Working toward a Clear Goal 
Commitment to Quality 
Teaching Staff “Not to Know” 
Transformation of Culture 
Alignment with Administrative Departments
Conclusion
xvii
1
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3
5
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7
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10
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19
v
vi
C o n t en t s
C h a p t e r 2 Th e IT D i l e m m a
Introduction
Recent Background
IT in the Organizational Context
IT and Organizational Structure
The Role of IT in Business Strategy
Ways of Evaluating IT
Executive Knowledge and Management of IT
IT: A View from the Top
Section 1: Chief Executive Perception of the Role of IT
Section 2: Management and Strategic Issues
Section 3: Measuring IT Performance and Activities
General Results
Defining the IT Dilemma
Recent Developments in Operational Excellence
C h a p t e r 3 Te c h n o l o gy a s a Va r ia b l e
O r g a n i z at i o n a l D y n a m i s m
and
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32
34
35
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38
Responsive
Introduction
Technological Dynamism
Responsive Organizational Dynamism
Strategic Integration
Summary
Cultural Assimilation
IT Organization Communications with “ Others” 
Movement of Traditional IT Staff
Summary
Technology Business Cycle
Feasibility
Measurement
Planning
Implementation
Evolution
Drivers and Supporters
Santander versus Citibank 
Information Technology Roles and Responsibilities
Replacement or Outsource
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
Te c h n o l o gy
Introduction
Learning Organizations
Communities of Practice
Learning Preferences and Experiential Learning
Social Discourse and the Use of Language
Identity
Skills
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and
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vii
C o n t en t s
Emotion
Linear Development in Learning Approaches
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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
Te c h n o l o gy
and
The Role of Line Management
Line Managers
First-Line Managers
Supervisor
Management Vectors
Knowledge Management
Ch ange Management 
Change Management for IT Organizations
Social Networks and Information Technology
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
Bal an ce d S c o recard
and the
Introduction
Methods of Ongoing Evaluation
Balanced Scorecards and Discourse
Knowledge Creation, Culture, and Strategy
C h a p t e r 7 V i r t ua l Te a m s
and
Outsourcing
Introduction
Status of Virtual Teams
Management Considerations
Dealing with Multiple Locations
Externalization
Internalization
Combination
Socialization
Externalization Dynamism
Internalization Dynamism
Combination Dynamism
Socialization Dynamism
Dealing with Multiple Locations and Outsourcing
Revisiting Social Discourse
Identity
Skills
Emotion
C h a p t e r 8 S y 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
Introduction
Siemens AG
Aftermath
ICAP
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viii
Chapter 9
C o n t en t s
Five Years Later
HTC
IT History at HTC
Interactions of the CEO
The Process
Transformation from the Transition
Five Years Later
Summary
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233
Fo rmin g
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a
C y b e r S e c u r i t y C u lt u r e
Introduction
History
Talking to the Board
Establishing a Security Culture
Understanding What It Means to be Compromised
Cyber Security Dynamism and Responsive Organizational
Dynamism
Cyber Strategic Integration
Cyber Cultural Assimilation
Summary
Organizational Learning and Application Development
Cyber Security Risk
Risk Responsibility
Driver /Supporter Implications
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
C o n s u m e r B e h av i o r
and
Changes
in
Introduction
Requirements without Users and without Input
Concepts of the S-Curve and Digital Transformation
Analysis and Design 
Organizational Learning and the S-Curve
Communities of Practice
The IT Leader in the Digital Transformation Era
How Technology Disrupts Firms and Industries
Dynamism and Digital Disruption
Critical Components of “ Digital” Organization 
Assimilating Digital Technology Operationally and Culturally
Conclusion
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
A c c e l e r at e C o m p e t i t i v e A d va n ta g e
242
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to
Introduction
The Employment Challenge in the Digital Era
Gen Y Population Attributes
Advantages of Employing Millennials to Support Digital
Transformation
Integration of Gen Y with Baby Boomers and Gen X
269
269
270
272
272
273
C o n t en t s
Designing the Digital Enterprise
Assimilating Gen Y Talent from Underserved and Socially
Excluded Populations
Langer Workforce Maturity Arc
Theoretical Constructs of the LWMA
The LWMA and Action Research
Implications for New Pathways for Digital Talent
Demographic Shifts in Talent Resources
Economic Sustainability
Integration and Trust
Global Implications for Sources of Talent
Conclusion
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
Introduction
Chief IT Executive
Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in
the Chief IT Executive Best Practices Arc
Maturity Stages
Performance Dimensions
Chief Executive Officer
CIO Direct Reporting to the CEO
Outsourcing
Centralization versus Decentralization of IT
CIO Needs Advanced Degrees
Need for Standards
Risk Management
The CEO Best Practices Technology Arc
Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in
the CEO Technology Best Practices Arc
Maturity Stages
Performance Dimensions
Middle Management
The Middle Management Best Practices Technology Arc
Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in
the Middle Manager Best Practices Arc
Maturity Stages
Performance Dimensions
Summary
Ethics and Maturity
C h a p t e r 13 C o n c l u s i o n s
Introduction
G lo s sa ry
References
Index
ix
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363
373
Foreword
Digital technologies are transforming the global economy. Increasingly,
firms and other organizations are assessing their opportunities, developing and delivering products and services, and interacting with customers 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 customers opportunities to co-design and co-produce products and services.
Many start-up companies use digital technologies to develop new products and business models that disrupt the present way of doing business, taking customers away from firms that cannot change and adapt.
In recent years, digital technology and new business models have disrupted 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 embedded 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
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F o re w o rd
aligning technology with business strategies and transforming corporate 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 normative advice about technology adoption, he shows how sound learning theory and principles can be used to incorporate technology into
the organization. His discussion ranges across the dynamic learning
organization, knowledge management, change management, communities of practice, and virtual teams. Second, he shows how an
organization can move beyond technology alignment to true technology 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 learning 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 technology 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
Co-Editor, Journal of Organization Design
Acknowledgments
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 theories on organizational learning, and Professor Lee Knefelkamp, for
her ongoing mentorship on adult learning and developmental theories. Professor David Thomas from the Harvard Business School also
provided valuable direction on the complex issues surrounding diversity, 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 successfully 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 technology into business strategy. Lynn O’ Connor Vos, CEO of Grey
Healthcare, also showed me how technology can produce direct monetary 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 iii
Author
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 director 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 populations, IT organizational integration, mentoring, and staff development. Dr. Langer consults with corporations and universities on
information technology, cyber security, staff development, management transformation, and curriculum development around the
Globe. Dr. Langer is also the chairman and founder of Workforce
Opportunity Services (www.wforce.org), a non-profit social venture
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Au t h o r
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
University.
Introduction
Background
Information technology (IT) has become a more significant part of
workplace operations, and as a result, information systems personnel 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; LipmanBlumen, 1996). This digital revolution is defined as a form of “ disruption.” 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 organizations 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 assimilation, 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
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In t r o d u c ti o n
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 conceptualize this salient issue— that is, that the optimization of information
and digital technologies is best pursued with a synchronous implementation of organizational learning concepts. Furthermore, these
concepts cannot be implemented without utilizing theories of strategic
learning. Therefore, this book takes the position that technology literacy requires individual and group strategic learning if it is to transform
a business into a technology-based learning organization. Technologybased organizations are defined as those that have implemented a means
of successfully integrating technology into their process of organizational learning. Such organizations recognize and experience the reality 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 organizational 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
In t r o d u c ti o n
xix
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