Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

The Processes of ICT Diffusion in Technology Projects

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

The Processes of ICT Diffusion in Technology Projects

Article excerpt


During the last decade, cost-cutting pressures, accompanied by increasing customer demands and rapid changing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have driven companies to initiate technology projects. Productivity Commission (2004) argues that companies invest in ICT in order to boost their performance. However, the process of technological implementation involves a considerable amount of risk with respect to the diffusion of new technologies within projects. The high failure and delay rates of ICT projects have been the subject of considerable interest among academics and practitioners (Volk 2004; Charvat 2003; Krempl 2004). Currently, there is general agreement that delivering technology projects on time with a defined budget and resources is still the principal criterion for measuring the success of technology projects (LeMay 2008). According to Andersen et al. (2006), the set project goals can be achieved through communication. However, communication is a broad term that needs further investigation. Rogers' (1995: 17) research on diffusion of innovation states that '... a particular type of communication in which the message content that is exchanged is concerned with a new idea'. In regard to this, scholars are still in dispute over how new ideas are disseminated. While Volk (2004) emphasises the formal and planned diffusion processes within project management, Rogers (1995) highlights that diffusion of new ideas can occur either as a planned or spontaneous process. Usually, technological ideas are disseminated via informal networks in order to influence people (Kakabadse et al. 2004). This implies that informal networks play a vital role in the diffusion process of innovation (Von Stamm 2003).

Over the past 15 years, scholars have examined project management, diffusion and informal networks as separate discourses. This study is among the first which investigates how ICT is diffused within standard project management and whether informal networks are used for dissemination purposes. Moreover, it is not clear whether ICT diffusion includes the same diffusion elements such as innovation, communication channels, adoption or rejection time, and social system, which were suggested by Rogers (1995) in the general context of diffusion of innovation. Specifically, this paper seeks to address the research question: how is ICT innovation diffused alongside standard project management in order to achieve target project outcomes? In the next section, the theoretical background for the study is discussed, followed by the methodology applied. The results are then outlined and the discussion presented with conclusions.


Usually, a project is initiated to develop or improve products, processes and/or services within an organisation (Cleland & Ireland 2002; Hartley 2003). Keeling (2000: 2) emphasises three main identification points for projects such as 'separate undertakings', 'discrete purpose and objectives' and 'limited duration'. Kerzner (2003) adds that the termination date, limited budget, objectives and specified resources characterise a project. In other words, a project is initiated as the formal and planned process on a temporary basis in order to achieve set project goals.

There are many different project management models discussed in the literature recommending standard procedures (Loo 2003). Similarly, the proposed project management models underline the distinct project management phases. The study, on which this paper is based, adopted the Western Australian Innovation Centre (2005) model which suggests four project management phases that proceed sequentially from 'initiation' to 'planning', 'execution' and then finally to 'closeout'. This four-phase model is widely adopted by practitioners in project management. In each distinctive project management phase, various activities are performed. In the initiation phase, the project needs to be approved. …

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