From Placebo to Panacea: Studying the Diffusion of IT Management Techniques with Ambiguous Efficiencies - The Case of Capability Maturity Model (CMM)


Authors: Saeed Akhlaghpour, Liette Lapointe

Publication: Journal for the Association of Information Systems, Forthcoming


In light of the inherent shortcomings of single-perspective approaches in IT diffusion research, in this paper, we develop a multi-perspective framework for studying the diffusion of IT management techniques. The framework is then applied to explain the diffusion of Capability Maturity Model (CMM). This research contributes to the Information Systems theory by (a) illustrating how several different theoretical perspectives (i.e., forced-selection, efficient choice, fashion, and fad) can be used to explain an IT management innovation diffusion, (b) identifying the specific limitations of each perspective, and (c) demonstrating how these perspectives can be reconciled and yield a holistic understanding of the diffusion trajectory. Building on 20+ years of CMM research, the propositions of this paper shed more light on the underlying dynamics driving the adoption decision among software vendors, and will inform IS scholars and practitioners about the types of actions that can foster the dissemination of emerging IT management techniques.