Smart Production & Organizations: The impact of digitalization on organizations within manufacturing industries

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Type and Duration

PhD-Thesis, September 2017 until June 2022 (finished)


Hilti Chair of Business Process Management

Main Research

Business Process Management

Field of Research

Digital Innovation


Digital technologies are omnipresent and penetrate deeply into the very core of products, processes and organizations. Especially manufacturing industries are affected as they are embedded into highly technical and digital environments including complex business processes. Despite a common understanding that skilled employees are the core of every enterprise embracing digital transformation, there are still opportunities of theoretical and empirical research on how digitalization is impacting organizations and what this means for management. With the current work, we are introducing a research project with the focus on identifying the impact of digitalization on organizations within manufacturing industries. As initial step, we conduct a theoretical analysis of existing human agent and material agent theories (e.g. theory of structuration by Giddens, Sociomateriality by Orlikowski, Imbrication by Leonardi) and challenging them with the concept of digitalization. Continuing with a mixed methods research design, we are combining qualitative and quantitative research and data. This research design is selected, as the field of digitalization is an emerging phenomenon in the area of Information Systems and we want to propose new theoretical insights to generate new ideas and hypotheses. Starting with an explorative case study research we first begin with a qualitative research phase and explore the view of participants (smart factories). The data is then analyzed, and the information used to derive patterns that build the foundation for theory creation. In the second, quantitative research phase, the developed theory will be validated. A new set of smart factories will be selected and treated as validation group. Providing a theoretical foundation for considering the influence of digitalization on organizations and the respective consequences for management, assists enterprises in developing a sound digitalization strategy that supports entrepreneurial success.


Organisational Studies, Digitalization, Smart manufaturing, Industry 4.0, Agency theory