Learning Unit (LU) 8 dives into the (social) mechanisms that ensure that EA practices are perceived to be useful to and by the actual stakeholders within the organization. Soft factors are essential for the success of EA because its organizational acceptance depends on the acceptance by individual employees.

This LU required us to read only two papers, and as far as I remember I found the first one rather interesting. But, let’s take a look.


Responding to Enterprise Architecture Initiatives: Loyalty, Voice and Exit

This article identifies three options of responses to EA initiatives; there is compliance with the EA strategy, a loyal yet local response (so not enterprise-wide) and rebellious actions. I think we can see this with other initiatives, unrelated to EA, in companies as well. What I mean is that these three options are not limited to EA adoption but are generally true.

In this article they call these three options loyalty, voice and exit which comes form a dude called Hirschman. He developed some theory around these concepts from his research. In his research customers have three options to respond to change, they either respond with loyalty, voice or exit. Let’s describe these terms a bit:

  • Loyalty: can serve the socially useful purpose of preventing deterioration from becoming cumulative. It can hold exit at bay, and activates voice.
  • Voice: any attempt at all to change, rather than to escape from… with the intention of forcing a change in management.
  • Exit: results in: revenues drop, membership declines, and management is impelled to search for ways and means to correct whatever faults have led to exit.

This all sounds very confusing so let’s apply them in the context of EA: Loyalty means to comply with the EA policies and blueprints, voice means to oppose or challenge the policies and exit means to ignore them altogether.

Interestingly, the research found that all three options could be beneficial to EA in a company. They visualized it very nicely in a table, which I will copy down below:

Mediating mechanics Opportunities for EA team
Voice Alignment and control
based on communication
Co-develop EA
Loyalty New social structures
and people’s good
Understand local
Exit Independency and
flexibility relying on
open community
Develop generic/
standardized interfaces

The conclusions of this research are as follows: First, they want to highlight that iterative learning and frequent feedback is a prerequisite for a successful EA initiative. Second, the central EA team should be ambidextrous (Whuutt??), exploiting and exploring and learn from project responses, instead of trying to control them. Ambidextrous means “unusually skilled” in this context I think. I never heard this word before, sounds classy though, yet totally unnecessary. Third, they want to emphasize that EA is as much about people as it is about technology.


Institutional Perspectives on the process of Enterprise Architecture Adoption

This paper tries to identify roles on institutional pressures in different phases during the process of EA adoption and how it changes overtime and provide insight into EA adoption and the process of institutionalization. The research question for this paper goes as follows: “How do institutional pressures influence different phases of EA adoption?”

An institution in this paper is defined as: “(neo) institutions are a set of rules, norms, and values operating in a given environment that help generate a regulatory of behavior among actors affected by that environment”. Institutional theory examines “the process and mechanisms by which structures, schemas, rules and routines become established as authoritative guidelines for social behavior” and thus offers a lens for analyzing the rules, norms and values that underlie and legitimize behaviors.

The authors found the following: cognitive factors are more emergent and important than normative and regulative pressures in the early stage of adoption. Particularly important are cognitive-cultural issues related to the managers’ understanding and perception of the role of EA. Regulatory factors such as legal frameworks and governance practices, can be thought of as a prerequisite for EA. However, legal frameworks were unstable since they probably change often. These findings parallel the literature on the unclear and intangible EA benefits, and emphasizes the importance of cognitive factors in the early stage of EA adoption.

Regulative pressures dominate EA implementation and thus played an important role for EA adoption in the implementation phase. They created several conflicts between internal and external institutions and extended project scope and schedules. When the institutions are more involved in the EA implementation, regulative factors become more dominant and cognitive-cultural factors become more complex.

Cognitive pressures appear to dominate during the early phases, while regulative pressures seem to become important during the implementation phase of EA adoption.



So the first paper of the two was a nice read and very noticeable in real-life situations. The second paper however was a drag… I didn’t really enjoy reading it and writing this blog about it was pretty difficult without going too deeply into the details. So, it might be a bit vague and abstract, but the information is all in the paper if you are interested.

I did learn a new word though: ambidextrous.


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Article 1: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/50185/paper0298.pdf

Article 2: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10796-019-09944-8.pdf

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