A memetic theory of interorganizational information systems (IOIS) emergence and evolution : a longitudinal case study of IOIS for trade facilitation

Phuaphanthong, Thayanan
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
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Interorganizational information systems (IOISs) have become the core platform of today's digital economy. Despite their increasing importance, little is known about how they emerge, evolve into their current form, and coevolve with social institutions that develop, regulate, use, and maintain them. In addition to examining an IOIS at the macro level (i.e., IOIS of a specific technology, an organization, a community of practice, or an industry) like most researchers, this study put a spotlight on the smallest elements that constitute the existence of an IOIS, i.e., "meme"-a term coined by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, to refer to information, knowledge, and ideas that serve as a unit of cultural transmission. Inspired by Lamarck's theory of acquired characteristics and inheritance and Darwin's theory of natural selection, a memetic theory of IOIS emergence and evolution was developed to provide an alternative explanation for IOIS emergence and evolution as well as its coevolution with the environment. The theory was operationalized with four propositions and tested with data from a 17-year longitudinal case of the IOIS that has been implemented for use in the international trade domain. The empirical study confirms the usefulness of a meme-centered view, Lamarck's theory of acquired characteristics and inheritance, and Darwin's theory of natural selection in explaining the process in which an IOIS emerges and evolves. It reveals the roles of memes in securing commitment and support from project sponsors, getting all the stakeholders on board, and providing basic design parameters and raw materials necessary for the existence of an IOIS. It uncovers the fact that social, economic, and political happenings are not the only environmental forces that cause memes that are crucial for the existence of an IOIS to emerge and evolve. The emergence and evolution of one meme is also driven by the existence of other memes. There are memes that emerge to allow traits of pre-existing memes to be properly expressed and memes that build on pre-existing memes by using them as resources for their conception. The study also unveils criteria in which memes are selected to be incorporated into an IOIS and the role of perception on meme selection. It explains the chaotic nature of decisions toward implementing IOIS as well as the rationality of some irrational decisions. Although the case study spanned from 1995-2012, only a few instances of coevolution between an IOIS and social institutions and communities that develop, regulate, use, and change it were detected. To better understand this kind of phenomenon, additional data must be collected in the years to come.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Interorganizational Information System (IOIS), Evolution, Meme, Darwin, Lamarck
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Communication and Information Sciences.
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