The paradoxical effects of digital artefacts on innovation practices

Raffaele Ciriello, Alexander Richter, Gerhard Schwabe

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Digital artefacts are increasingly used for supporting innovation practices, implying a growing need to better understand their role in different contexts. In this paper, we study how digital artefacts enable and constrain innovation practices by means of an in-depth, multi-year qualitative field study at a software firm. Analysing the usage of PowerPoint, as a dominant digital innovation artefact, we identify three paradoxes – conflicting yet interdependent tensions of digital artefacts in innovation practices: (1) Freedom and Captivity, (2) Clarity and Ambiguity, and (3) Scarcity and Abundance. Via a dialectic synthesis of the three paradoxes and an extension to modelling tools, we develop a substantive theory of the paradoxical effects of digital artefacts on innovation practices. We discuss theoretical implications for research on affordances and outline a path for research on IT paradoxes. We also offer practical implications by illustrating the paradoxical effects of using digital innovation artefacts and suggesting appropriate coping strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Paradox
  • Innovation Practices
  • digital artefact
  • affordances
  • PowerPoint
  • modelling tools
  • qualitative field study


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