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European Journal of Information Systems
Digital Enabled Strategic Agility:
The Next Frontier

Journal Information: www.tandfonline.com/ejis

Guest Editors


Overview of Special Issue
In an era of heightened uncertainty and disruption, organizational leaders face growing pressures to quickly develop new digitally-enabled capabilities that will allow them to chart and implement a course of action, growth, and renewal (Kappelman et al., 2019). Industries that were once protected and isolated from change are now having to embrace digital-enabled strategic agility or suffer the wrath of their shareholders. Quite simply, organizations must evolve their business strategies and the technologies that support or enable them. Rigidity, whether due to structural inertia, laborious decision making or legacy information technology (IT) assets can hasten an organization’s demise. If organizations are to survive and prosper in an era where speed is of the essence, the belief is that organizations need new ways to create and deploy an appropriate mix of agility-oriented IT capabilities (Queiroz et al., 2018; Tallon et al., 2019). 

Strategic agility* or the ability to sense and respond to shifting market forces with ease, speed and dexterity is most needed in organizations and industries characterized by growing systemic interdependencies (Doz & Kosonen, 2008; Tallon & Pinsonneault, 2011). Just like the process-level effects of strategic IT alignment are known to spillover to adjoining processes in the value chain, so too can the upstream presence of rigidity hinder what occurs in downstream processes (Tallon, 2012). Under these conditions, competitive advantage is more fickle and the typical formulas for sustained advantage do not apply. Existing routines are constantly disrupted by digitization and new digital-enabled products and services. Strategic agility is required to keep pace with environmental change and to predict change where possible. Representative capabilities that help organizations to achieve strategic agility can be divided into three broad categories: (1) strategic awareness capabilities to scan and define emergent threats and opportunities, (2) collective response capabilities to make timely, accurate, expeditious, and relevant decisions, and (3) resource orchestration capabilities to deploy resources to easily and quickly execute those decisions (Doz & Kosonen, 2008; Park et al., 2017; van Oosterhout et al., 2006).

*The terms strategic agility, firm agility, organizational agility, enterprise agility, business agility, and process agility are often used interchangeably in the literature. By focusing on strategic agility in this special issue, we are calling attention to how organizations are transforming how they do business. We emphasize, however, that manuscripts that use other terms such as process agility or organizational agility are still welcome to submit to this special issue but that they ought to be consistent in how they conceptualize and define agility.

Digital-enabled strategic agility means that an organization can leverage its IT infrastructure, applications, data, and personnel to change its course of action and develop new value propositions to gain a competitive edge (Weber & Tarba, 2014). Creating value propositions for the digital economy is not easy, however. It requires new insights and competencies to develop a constantly evolving portfolio of information-enabled solutions as technology and market needs change. Moreover, any organization is likely to possess resources and competencies that will not immediately become obsolete in the face of technology and market changes. This need to maintain certain timeless competencies will often bump up against the need to invest resources in new digital offerings. Ross et al. (2019) propose that digital offerings are information-enriched solutions wrapped in seamless, personalized customer experiences. The question they ask of every leadership team is whether they are able to deliver a constantly evolving, innovative group of digital offerings? The question we would ask is whether they can do so easily, quickly, and at reasonable expense? While IT resources and capabilities may prove critical in this regard, one must equally recognize the role of agile methods and other IT sourcing mechanisms that speak to the need for deployment, scaling, and implementation of such assets. 

With this special issue, we aim to investigate various facets of digital-enabled strategic agility. Specifically, we aim to attract submissions that offer fresh insights into how organizations are using IT to both support and enable business strategies but with a specific emphasis on how organizations are engendering an array of options for reacting to IT and market change. We welcome the submission of original manuscripts that advance our empirical, theoretical, and conceptual understanding of how organizations are using IT to react to, and indeed, to enact change whether through digitization or business transformation. Submissions should articulate clear, concise, and substantial implications for theory and practice. We especially welcome papers that question the validity of existing organizational theories in the digital era or whose findings cast doubt on current theories of IT and strategic agility (Tallon et al., 2019). Conceptual theory development papers are welcomed but will be subject to additional scrutiny to ensure they move the field in new directions and provide a significant contribution to the literature.

Potential Questions, Topics and Theories of Interest Include:

  • How do the benefits of digital-enabled strategic agility vary as markets become increasingly volatile?

  • What coping mechanisms do organizations adopt if they are unable to pursue strategic agility?

  • How is digital-enabled strategic agility impacted by mergers and acquisitions?

  • Is collective decision making a safeguard against bias or an impediment to agile decision-making? 

  • What IT capabilities enable rapid changes to resource allocation routines?

  • Why are some digitally-enabled organizational resources more flexible than others? 

  • How does IT modularity enable strategic agility?

  • What role does data analytics play in enabling strategic agility and how is this evolving over time?

  • What does dynamic alignment between IT and business strategy look like during periods of change?

  • Which is worse for strategic agility: IT rigidity or organizational inertia?

  • What is the role of SaaS and cloud-based systems in the quest for digital-enabled strategic agility?

  • Under what conditions are digital options important or detrimental to strategic agility?

  • What are the downsides to organizations being in a perpetual state of strategic agility?

  • What approaches to digital transformation are most likely to benefit strategic agility?

  • How can agile IT development methods engender digital-enabled strategic agility? 

Special Issue AMCIS Workshop and Timeline

To aid in the development of papers intended for the Special Issue, an optional half-day workshop will be held during the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) in Salt Lake City in August 2020. Presenters at the Special Issue Workshop, scheduled for Wednesday, August 12, will have an opportunity to receive feedback on their work from a gathering of experienced researchers, including guest editors and other participants. Workshop registration will be limited to paper authors. We expect that all participants will gain insights on the preparation and positioning of their work. Submissions to the AMCIS workshop should be between 5-8 double-spaced pages (approx. 1500 words). Authors should note that they may still submit their research to the special issue even if they cannot attend the August 12 workshop. In order to be considered for the AMCIS special issue workshop, authors should send a word or PDF file containing their submission to the guest editors at the email addresses noted above.

  • February 1, 2020:      Online submission opens for Special Issue Workshop

  • June 1, 2020:             Deadline for electronic submission of papers to AMCIS Special Issue Workshop

  • June 30, 2020:           Notification of authors regarding acceptance to AMCIS Special Issue Workshop

  • August 12, 2020:       Half-day Special Issue Workshop at AMCIS in Salt Lake City, UT

  • January 17, 2021:      Submission deadline for full papers to EJIS

  • May 1, 2021:              First round of reviews for submitted papers

  • July 1, 2021:               Deadline for resubmissions

  • November 1, 2021:   Final decisions

  • Spring 2022:              Expected publication of special issue in EJIS

While participation at the AMCIS workshop is optional, authors are encouraged to participate. Submissions to the Special Issue Workshop will be assessed on quality, research contribution, and fit to the special issue. 


DOZ YL AND KOSONEN M (2008) The dynamics of strategic agility: Nokia's rollercoaster experience. California Management Review 50(3), 95-118.

KAPPELMAN L, TORRES R, MCLEAN E, MAURER C, JOHNSON V AND KIM K (2019) The 2018 SIM IT issues and trends study. MIS Quarterly Executive 18(1), 51-84.

PARK Y, EL SAWY O AND FISS PC (2017) The role of business intelligence and communication technologies in organizational agility: A configurational approach. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 18(9), 648-686.

QUEIROZ M, TALLON P, SHARMA R AND COLTMAN T (2018) The role of IT application orchestration capability in improving agility and performance. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 27(1), 4-21.

ROSS JW, BEATH CM AND MOCKER M (2019) Designed for digital: How to architect your business for sustained success. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

TALLON P, QUEIROZ M, COLTMAN T AND SHARMA R (2019) Information technology and the search for organizational agility: A systematic review with future research possibilities. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 28(2), 218-237.

TALLON PP (2012) Value chain linkages and the spillover effects of strategic IT alignment: A process-level view. Journal of Management Information Systems 28(3), 9-44.

TALLON PP AND PINSONNEAULT A (2011) Competing perspectives on the link between strategic information technology alignment and organizational agility: Insights from a mediation model. MIS Quarterly 35(2), 463-486.

VAN OOSTERHOUT M, WAARTS E AND VAN HILLEGERSBERG J (2006) Change factors requiring agility and implications for IT. European Journal of Information Systems 15(2), 132-145.

WEBER Y AND TARBA SY (2014) Strategic agility: A state of the art. California Management Review 56(3), 5-12.