Information System Outsourcing Dynamics: A Case Study as Seen by a Client Boundary Role Person

  • Ari HeiskanenEmail author
  • Riitta Hekkala
  • Mike Newman
  • Merja Eklin
Part of the Progress in IS book series (PROIS)


The paper presents an analysis of the evolution of the relationship between a large university and its software vendor. The parties were engaged in several projects that developed tailored information systems (IS) for the administration of the university. Three systems are the focus in this case study: student records, student admissions and student mobility. Our point of view is that of the first author who was an insider in this process as he acted as a boundary role person between the client and the vendor, first as the chief information systems officer of the university during the formative years of student records and student admissions, and later as a contracted leader for student records and student mobility after he joined another university. In the case of student mobility we also describe and analyse the dissolution of the client-vendor relationship. We also investigate the process through which the boundary role was terminated in the case of student records. Using the history data as the basis, the authors picture the dynamics of the action strategies of the client side. The conclusion is that in this case when developing the student records system, the bond between the client and the IS vendor intensified more rapidly than the literature based on relationship marketing would suggest. Moreover, the relationship problems in IS development typically became apparent after a long period of cooperation, e.g., when the IS was taken into use and the parties realised that the functionality of the new system was inadequate.


Information systems outsourcing Action strategies Relationship management Boundary role persons University information systems Reflective information system practitioner research 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ari Heiskanen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Riitta Hekkala
    • 3
  • Mike Newman
    • 4
    • 5
  • Merja Eklin
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Information Processing ScienceUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.VantaaFinland
  3. 3.Department of Information and Service Economy, School of BusinessAalto UniversityHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Manchester Business SchoolThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  5. 5.Turku School of EconomicsUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  6. 6.Center for Information Technology, IT ManagementUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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