The Role of Institutional Work in Platform Establishment: An Investigation of Digital Innovation Practices for Creating, Maintaining and Disrupting Institutions

AbstractWhile the significance of digital platforms for contemporary organizations has been demonstrated both in theory and practice, how they emerge is less understood. We argue that one source of digital platform emergence is the recombinatorial innovation processes individuals enact in organizational work practices. We draw on theory on institutional work to empirically examine how innovation processes led to the emergence of a digital platform in the Swedish transport administration. We find that actors engage in work aimed at creating, maintaining and disrupting socio-technical structures. These work practices involve exploring the possibilities of specific digital resources, their combinatorial options, and how new resources can be generated. The analysis contributes to the literature on digital platforms by (1) demonstrating the role of digital malleability in bypassing institutional resistance, (2) identifying temporal patterns and dependencies of activities, and (3) detecting distinct emphasis in types of institutional work.

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