Capabilities and Work Practices - A Case Study of the Practical Use and Utility

  • Anders W. Tell
  • Martin Henkel
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 745)


There exists a multitude of approaches, frameworks, and methods that are used for analysis, design, and planning of strategic capability systems, military capabilities and IS/IT systems. These approaches commonly dictate a single capability definition and practice that should be applied across an organisation or project. This paper examines the practical use and utility of the capability concept with special focus on examining differences between work practices of people with similar job to be done. The examination was done through a case study of a mega-scale programme. It was found that there exist varying common-sense meanings and overlaid practices of the idea capability. When the concept of capability evolved through learning-by-doing, usage of the capability concept was considered as very valuable, this opposed to when a ready-made enterprise architecture framework was introduced. Furthermore, analysis revealed that reported uses were many, varied significantly between work practices, and sometimes incoherent, contradictory and vague.


Capability Enterprise architecture Performance management Situational knowledge Situational viewpoint Air Traffic Management 


  1. 1.
    NATO: NATO Architecture Framework - NAF 3.1 (2009)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stirna, J., Grabis, J., Henkel, M., Zdravkovic, J.: Capability driven development – an approach to support evolving organizations. In: Perspectives in Business Informatics Research, pp. 117–131. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kusunoki, K., Nonaka, I., Nagata, A.: Organizational capabilities in product development of japanese firms: a conceptual framework and empirical findings. Organ. Sci. 9, 699–718 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Javidan, M.: Core competence: what does it mean in practice? Long Range Plan. 31, 60–71 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ulrich, W., Rosen, M.: The Business Capability Map: The “Rosetta Stone” of Business/IT Alignment.
  6. 6.
    Harmon, P.: Capabilities and Processes.
  7. 7.
    Danesh, M.H., Yu, E.: Modeling Enterprise Capabilities with i*: Reasoning on Alternatives. Springer, Cham (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Adler, E., Pouliot, V.: International practices: introduction and framework. In: Cambridge Studies in International Relations, vol. 119, pp. 3–35 (2011)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Brown, J.S., Duguid, P.: Balancing Act: How to Capture Knowledge Without Killing It.
  10. 10.
    Nicolini, D.: Practice Theory, Work, and Organization: An Introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2012)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Tell, A.W.: What capability is not. In: Perspectives in Business Informatics Research, pp. 128–142. Springer, Cham (2014)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tell, A.W., Henkel, M., Perjons, E.: A method for situating capability viewpoints. In: Perspectives in Business Informatics Research, pp. 278–293. Springer, Cham (2016)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Myers, M.D.: Qualitative Research in Business & Management. Sage Publications Ltd., Thousand Oaks (2008)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Braun, V., Clarke, V.: Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual. Res. Psychol. 3, 77–101 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations