Modern Perspectives on the Digital Economy : With Insights From the Health Care Sector

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Business Studies

Abstract: During the last decades, extensive investments in IT have been made more or less within the majority of the existing industries. This development presents both opportunities and risks with regard to organization and change. The main purpose of this thesis is to investigate these new conditions spawned by digitization, and to examine why many of the anticipated benefits have failed to come about. This is done through historical and contemporary studies – together with informed speculations about the future – with health care as the empirical setting.The research presented here consists of four articles and a revised licentiate thesis. The findings from the studies suggest that despite both academic and practical calls for research that simultaneously considers IT, digitization, organization and organizational change – there is still a lack of such efforts. Furthermore, the results indicate that IT has to be contextualized and broken down into sub-types, a taxonomy or typology, depending on the specific situation. Also, the present stage of digitization determines the conditions for utilization of IT. This also has to be considered. Another conclusion is that digitization, in fact, has lead to increases in productivity. But traditional financial measures are not always suitable for measuring the impact of IT on productivity. The first steps towards being able to really measure the effects from IT and digitization are to establish common standards and nomenclatures in organizations, and to consolidate existing IT systems so that they generate compatible and informative data and information. By doing this organizations are also better suited to define, visualize, measure and evaluate important processes. In turn, they can start becoming truly process oriented.The thesis presents some possible modern implications from IT and digitization as well. For instance, simulation and digital reward systems can be fruitful management tools. They do however demand a compatible and well thought through IT infrastructure and that the generated data and information is aligned with the overall strategies and visions. The empirical component of this research is based on the health care sector in Sweden, which is one area. However, it is argued that the findings are relevant to other industries as well. This because most large and complex organizations that deal with IT and change run into the problems and opportunities discussed in the presented studies. If we really come to understand how IT-implementations affect organization and change – and vice versa – huge benefits can be realized. The treatment of patients and the situation for medical staff can be improved. Also, the national economy can be boosted due to various export advantages and better public health. Similar benefits can also be achieved in other types of organizations. Through its holistic and pluralistic approach regarding research and methodology, together with the rich empirical descriptions, the thesis presents original and valuable insights for both academics and practitioners. It primarily puts forth investigations of the implications of the reciprocal relationship between IT and digitization on the one hand, and organization and organizational change on the other.

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