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Overcoming the digital transformation paradoxes: a digital affordance perspective

Ruisheng Qin (School of Business Administration, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China) (School of Accounting and Auditing, Guangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanning, China)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 14 February 2023




Existing studies have been conducted to explain the process of digital transformation. This work aims to identify the paradoxes encountered by companies in undertaking digital transformation and the role of digital affordances in overcoming these paradoxes.


This study uses rich empirical data from four traditional Chinese manufacturers that have successfully achieved digital transformation to explain how companies can overcome the digital transformation paradox with the help of digital affordances.


The authors identify the paradoxes that traditional companies encounter when carrying out data transformation based on the experience of four Chinese traditional manufacturing enterprises that have successfully achieved digital transformation – the paradox of flexibility and stability of organization structure, the paradox of cost and profit and the paradox of perception between executives and employees. Based on this, we propose three digital affordances that play an important role in overcoming the digital transformation paradoxes – digital decentralization, digital agility and digital citizenship.


This study identifies three forms of critical digital affordances and introduces citizenship into digital transformation contexts.



We would like to thank to the editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and excellent feedback during the review process. We are very grateful to the interviewees for their help. This research was supported by the 2022 Project of Scientific Research Basic Ability Improvement for Young and Middle-aged Teachers in Guangxi Universities [grant number 2022KY0625].


Qin, R. (2023), "Overcoming the digital transformation paradoxes: a digital affordance perspective", Management Decision, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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