A Transdisciplinary Approach in Studying Organisational Transformations

A case study in Evolution of Military Enterprises


  • JUHA KAI MATTILA Aalto University




Organisational transformation, Enterprise architecture, Transdisciplinary research, Mixed methods, Research process, Evolution of socio-technical system


Digital transformation has a notorious record of failures. Maybe the enterprise architects do not have a holistic model to study and model the organisational transformation. An enterprise consists of several structural components, which vary from culture to technology layers defined in the Enterprise Architecture. Usually, the transformation of an enterprise involves most of the interrelated layers in connection to the environment around the organisation.
Seemingly, no single science provides frameworks to study the transformation of a whole system of systems (including the layers of enterprise strategy, culture, business, information, and technology). Therefore, the paper proposes a transdisciplinary approach combined with spiral research design as a framework for the business sciences and enterprise architecture. The proposed framework connects different sciences of sociology, business, strategy, history, information, and technology to understand the evolutionary particularities of each layer of enterprise in transformation. The transdisciplinary approach supports the modelling of the entire enterprise in all of its complexities and over a longer time. In contrast, the current monodisciplinary focuses only on parts of an enterprise at a particular window of time. By definition, transdisciplinary research fuses findings across the disciplines, between the disciplines and beyond the disciplines.
Furthermore, the framework supports spiralling between scientific methods and non-scientific practices. The case study utilised a spiralling research process that provided a tighter feedback loop from application in practice to model development in theory. The transdisciplinary spiralling approach provided an iterative approach to verify the outcome, reduce the complexity, and address the practitioner’s reality. Hopefully, the research approach used in the case study and the tool created will improve enterprise architecture practice to ensure a successful digital transformation of military organisations.