Track Chairs

Owen Eriksson, Associate Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden. Email:

Mark Aakhus, Professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA. Email:

Hans Weigand, Associate Professor, Tilburg University, Netherlands. Email:


Track Description

Digital Institutionalization

In the past decade, the IS discipline has seen a growing interest in institutional theory. Many studies have used institutional theory to interpret and analyze data, but only initial attempts have been hade to extend the theoretical understanding of institutions in IS research. From an ontological perspective, institutions have been defined as “systems of established and prevalent social rules that structure social interactions”. Institutional theory extends this definition by viewing institutions as regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive structures (institutional pillars), that, together with human activities, provide stability and meaning to social life. While such institutions have been the focus of social sciences for decades, their conceptualizations need re-examination in the wake of digitalization.

Institutions not only have to deal with digitalized processes, but are also subject of digitalization themselves. For instance, digital currencies and cashless transactions have begun to replace transactions conducted through traditional intermediaries, upending traditional concepts in the finance world. Such conceptions replace the idea of money as paper bills, with the idea of money as a digital number in a trusted financial system. Such changes extend beyond the institutionalized financial system, to a range of domains including archiving, health, science, governing, philanthropy, and cultural and media industries. The digitalization of institutional systems changes society at large, and raises the question who has the power to design and change digital institutions.

Institutional theory has often taken a cognitive focus, exploring how shared categories, schemas, mental models, logics or scripts constitute the legitimate ways of acting in institutional settings. However, such a cognitive focus can come at the expense of a more communicative view of institutions. A communicative view investigates how institutional reality is constructed by means of mediation, communication, and the performance of communication acts, creating institutional facts.

More generally, it is possible to see that key to designing and implementing digital institutions is the development of an institutional language that enables digital infrastructures and humans to interact in the production of institutional facts. Classification systems are mediated in digital infrastructures, and they are real in the sense that they have deep consequences for social interaction. Accordingly, conceptual modeling (institutional modeling), which defines the institutional language and classification systems is of prime concern for the design of digital institutional systems.

From a technical perspective the innovation of distributed ledger technology (DLT), more popularly understood in the terms of “blockchain,” is a promising radical mediator which could be used to create decentralized and shared digital institutional system. DLT is considered to be a reliable, secure, technology well-suited for enabling decentralized transactions. DLT technology combined with “smart contracts” enable distributed and digital transactions unmoored from the trappings of paper-based practices (e.g., hand-written signatures), and centralized validation of institutional facts.

The track particularly aims to stimulate the debate how IS research can develop original contributions advancing institutional theorizing, concerning the relationship between digitization and institutions in transforming multiple domains of society regarding:

  • How to design and manage digital institutions.

  • How digital technologies affect rules, processes and governance of digital institutions.

  • How classification systems and conceptual models affect and prescribe institutional behavior and digital institutions.

  • How laws and regulations have to adapt to and regulate digital technologies.


The digital institutionalization track will cover a wide range of topics. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Disruptive technologies and institutions such as DLT and smart contracts.

  • Conceptual modeling (institutional modeling) and digital institutions.

  • Ontology and digital institutions.

  • Language action theory and digital institutions.

  • Communication and media theory and digital institutions.

  • Cultural and media industry and digital institutions.

  • Social responsibilities of digital, platform-based organizations.

  • Centralized and decentralized digital institutions.

  • Government and digital institutions.

  • Digital inequalities and social reproduction via digital institutions.

  • Archiving and digital institutions.

  • Law and digital institutions.

  • Innovation and digital institutions.

  • Agent-based simulation of institutions.

  • Hacking digital institutions and algorithmic decision making.

  • E-health and digital institutions.

  • Digital institutions at the intersection of precision medicine and population health.


Track Associate Editors

1. Wolfgang Prinz,  Professor, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

2. Virgina  Dignum, Associate Professor, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

3. Jenny  Eriksson Lundström,  Senior Lecturer,  Uppsala University, Sweden

4. Göran Svensson,  Senior Lecturer, Uppsala University, Sweden

5. Rikard Lindgren,   Professor, University of Gothenburg,Sweden

6. Anderas Hamfelt,  Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden

7. Tina Blegind Jensen, Professor,  Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

8. Maria Bergholtz, Senior Lecturer, Stockholm University, Sweden

9. Jeffery Treem, Assistant Professor, University of Texas, USA

10. Sally Jackson, Professor, University of Illinois, USA

11. John C. Lammers,  Professor, University of Illinois, USA

12. Joshua B. Barbour, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas and Austin, USA

13. Mareike Schoop, Professor, University of Hohenheim, Germany