The paper aims to raise the question: how can a new information technology's (IT's) early momentum toward widespread adoption and eventual institutionalization be sustained? The purpose of the paper is to examine sustaining technological momentum as a form of institutional work and entrepreneurship not widely recognized as such.
The paper reports a case study of Business Week's special advertising section used in 2000‐2004 to both exploit and help sustain the momentum of customer relationship management (CRM).
The study finds that the advertisement section's producers employed it over several years to recurrently produce and disseminate credible discourse advancing CRM, incorporating models for action, and providing fresh meanings to the organizing vision for this technology so as to accentuate its progress and keep it worthy of continued attention. Most significantly, acquired momentum, while problematic to sustain, can nevertheless serve as its own resource, to be continuously reinvested in the form of public discourse which must itself be kept “lively” so that momentum may be extended.
The paper contributes to the institutional explanation of IT diffusion by theorizing the process of sustaining technological momentum as an important institution‐building task. In particular, it illuminates the contribution of entrepreneurially produced and disseminated discourse to this process and provides an illustration and analysis of specific forms of institutional work, strategies, and tactics employed in the process. Additionally, the paper suggests that institutional work for sustaining technological momentum differs in certain respects from that needed to launch a technology so as to acquire momentum in the first place.
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