Designing A Conceptual Framework for Leading Digital Transformation in Iranian Companies

Document Type : Scientific - Research


1 PhD Candidate of Human Resources Management, Faculty of Management, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran.

2 Associate Professor, Faculty of Management, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran.

3 Associate Professor, School of Information, Systems and Modelling, University of Technology Sydney.


Objective: The advent of new technologies in the digital era has fundamentally changed traditional business beliefs. Under new circumstances, organizations have to keep up with these changes, or they will lose the competition to their rivals and fade away. Disruptive technologies have brought about the “digital transformation” of business and introduced this term as a concept in the business literature. Digital transformation in general, and digital transformation leadership in particular, are new business concepts and as yet few studies have specifically focused on digital transformation leadership. Moreover, the studies conducted so far are fragmented, lacking an integrated approach to the topic. Notable too is the fact that industry has surpassed academia in digital transformation leadership as business consulting firms are paying more attention to this concept.
Material & Method: To answer the research questions and accomplish the objectives, a combination of systematic literature review and the Delphi survey was employed with a mixed design. First, the dimensions and components constituting digital transformation leadership were identified through a systematic review of the research literature.  A total of 33 papers were finally used for data collection in a systematic literature review. In the end, the findings were formulated within the initial research framework and employed as the input to the Delphi survey. The research initial framework was developed, revised, and confirmed over the three rounds of the Delphi survey and based on the opinions of the panel members (14 experts). 
Result & Discussion: the conceptual framework of digital transformation leadership, consisting of 278 conceptual elements in 4 dimensions, 13 categories, and 261 elements, was developed as the main research achievement. The main dimensions of this framework were "Digital roadmap", "Digital governance", "Digital organizing" and "Digital resources". Therefore, digital transformation leadership can be defined as a set of management decisions, actions, and requirements including roadmap design, resource allocation, organizing, selecting and implementing an appropriate governance framework in order to maximize the benefits of adopting disruptive technologies in an organization. In addition, the concept of digital transformation leadership is mainly represented by “digital organizing” during the research. “Digital resources”, “digital governance”, and “digital roadmap” ranked second to fourth, respectively.


Ancarani, A., & Di Mauro, C. (2018). Successful digital transformations need a focus on the individual. In Digitalisierung im Einkauf (pp. 11-26). Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden.
Azar, A., & Rajabzade, A. (2014). Applied Decision Making MADM Approach, negahe danesh publication. Tehran.[In Persian].
Basu, K. (2017). Change Management and Leadership: An Overview of the Healthcare Industry. In Handbook of Research on Human Resources Strategies for the New Millennial Workforce (pp. 47-64). IGI Global.
Bharadwaj, A., El Sawy, O. A., Pavlou, P. A., & Venkatraman, N. (2013). Digital business strategy: toward a next generation of insights. MIS quarterly, 471-482.
Bonnet, D., & Nandan, P. (2011). Transform to the power of digital: Digital transformation as a driver of corporate performance. report, Capgemini Consulting.
Butschan, J., Heidenreich, S., Weber, B., & Kraemer, T. (2019). Tackling hurdles to digital transformation—The role of competencies for successful industrial internet of things (IIoT) implementation. International Journal of Innovation Management23(04), 1950036.
Dasí, À., Elter, F., Gooderham, P. N., & Pedersen, T. (2017). New Business Models In-The-Making in Extant MNCs: Digital Transformation in a Telco. In Breaking up the Global Value Chain: Opportunities and Consequences (pp. 29-53). Emerald Publishing Limited.
Dery, K., Sebastian, I. M., & van der Meulen, N. (2017). The Digital Workplace is Key to Digital Innovation. MIS Quarterly Executive16(2).
Dremel, C., Wulf, J., Herterich, M. M., Waizmann, J. C., & Brenner, W. (2017). How AUDI AG Established Big Data Analytics in Its Digital Transformation. MIS Quarterly Executive16(2).
Eaves, Y. D. (2001). A synthesis technique for grounded theory data analysis. Journal of advanced nursing35(5), 654-663.
Fitzgerald, M., Kruschwitz, N., Bonnet, D., & Welch, M. (2014). Embracing digital technology: A new strategic imperative. MIT sloan management review55(2), 1.
Genpact,. (2016). Accelerating the Pace and Impact of Digital Transformation. Havard Business School Publishing. Retrieved from
Garcia, C., Alvarez Tabio, F., Bonnet, D., & Buvat, J. (2018). Strategies for the age of digital disruption. Digital transformation review. Cap Gemini Consulting. https://www. capgemini. com/consulting/resources/digital-transformation-review-7-strategies-for-the-ageof-digital-disruption. Accessed26.
Gerth, A. B., & Peppard, J. (2016). The dynamics of CIO derailment: How CIOs come undone and how to avoid it. Business Horizons59(1), 61-70.
Gimpel, H., Hosseini, S., Huber, R., Probst, L., Röglinger, M., & Faisst, U. (2018). Structuring digital transformation: a framework of action fields and its application at ZEISS. Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application19(1), 31-54.
Gwet, K. L. (2014). Handbook of inter-rater reliability: The definitive guide to measuring the extent of agreement among raters. Advanced Analytics, LLC.
Hansen, A. M., Kraemmergaard, P., & Mathiassen, L. (2011). Rapid Adaptation in Digital Transformation: A Participatory Process for Engaging IS and Business Leaders. MIS Quarterly Executive10(4).
Hess, T., Matt, C., Benlian, A., & Wiesböck, F. (2016). Options for formulating a digital transformation strategy. MIS Quarterly Executive15(2).
Jacobi, R., & Brenner, E. (2018). How large corporations survive digitalization. In Digital Marketplaces Unleashed (pp. 83-97). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Kaplan, B., Truex, D. P., Wastell, D., Wood-Harper, A. T., & DeGross, J. I. (Eds.). (2006). Information systems research: Relevant theory and informed practice (Vol. 143). Springer.
Karimi, J., & Walter, Z. (2015). The role of dynamic capabilities in responding to digital disruption: A factor-based study of the newspaper industry. Journal of Management Information Systems32(1), 39-81.
Kiron, D., Kane, G. C., Palmer, D., Phillips, A. N., & Buckley, N. (2016). Aligning the organization for its digital future. MIT Sloan Management Review58(1).
Kitchenham, B. A. (2007). Kitchenham B.: Guidelines for performing Systematic Literature Reviews in software engineering. EBSE Technical Report EBSE-2007-01. In icse (pp. 1051-1052).
Kohli, R., & Johnson, S. (2011). Digital Transformation in Latecomer Industries: CIO and CEO Leadership Lessons from Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. MIS Quarterly Executive10(4).
Kohnke, O. (2017). It’s not just about technology: the people side of digitization. In Shaping the digital enterprise (pp. 69-91). Springer, Cham
Korhonen, J.J., The Changing Role of the CIO. Published in: Collin, J., Hiekkanen, K., Korhonen, J.J., Halén, M., Itälä, T., Helenius, M.,  IT Leadership in Transition-The Impact of Digitalization on Finnish Organizations. Research rapport, Aalto University. Department of Computer Science, 2015.
Kreitstshtein, A.. Digital transformation and its effects on the competency framework: a case study of digital banking (Bachelor). Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.2017.
Li, L., Su, F., Zhang, W., & Mao, J. Y. (2018). Digital transformation by SME entrepreneurs: A capability perspective. Information Systems Journal28(6), 1129-1157.
Lokuge, S., Sedera, D., Grover, V., & Dongming, X. (2019). Organizational readiness for digital innovation: Development and empirical calibration of a construct. Information & Management56(3), 445-461.
Matt, C., Hess, T., & Benlian, A. (2015). Digital transformation strategies. Business & Information Systems Engineering57(5), 339-343.
Nadeem, A., Abedin, B., Cerpa, N., & Chew, E. (2018). Digital transformation & digital business strategy in electronic commerce-the role of organizational capabilities. Journal of theoretical and applied electronic commerce research13(2), i-viii.
Nieminen, J. Understanding & Managing Digital Transformation – A case study of a large Nordic retailer (Masters). Aalto University, School of Science, Computer Science and Engineering. 2014.
Okoli, C., & Pawlowski, S. D. (2004). The Delphi method as a research tool: an example, design considerations and applications. Information & management42(1), 15-29.
Schmidt, R. C. (1997). Managing Delphi surveys using nonparametric statistical techniques. decision Sciences28(3), 763-774.
Schwa Schwaferts, D., & Baldi, S. (2018). Digital Transformation Management and Digital Business Development. In Business Information Systems and Technology 4.0 (pp. 147-159). Springer, Cham.
Singh, A., & Hess, T. (2017). How Chief Digital Officers Promote the Digital Transformation of their Companies. MIS Quarterly Executive16(1).
Tolboom, I. H. The impact of digital transformation. (Masters thesis, Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management) retrieved from, 2016.
Tumbas, S., Berente, N., & vom Brocke, J. (2017). Three Types of Chief Digital Officers and the Reasons Organizations Adopt the Role. MIS Quarterly Executive16(2).
Wasono, L. W., & Furinto, A. (2018). The effect of digital leadership and innovation management for incumbent telecommunication company in the digital disruptive era. International Journal of Engineering and Technology7, 125-130.
Westerman, G., Bonnet, D., & McAfee, A. (2014). Leading digital: Turning technology into business transformation. Harvard Business Press.
Westerman, G., Calméjane, C., Bonnet, D., Ferraris, P., & McAfee, A. (2011). Digital Transformation: A roadmap for billion-dollar organizations. MIT Center for Digital Business and Capgemini Consulting1, 1-68.
Whitehurst, J. (2015). Driving digital transformation: New skills for leaders, new role for the CIO. Harvard Business Review Analytical Report, 1-16.
Wokurka, G., Banschbach, Y., Houlder, D., & Jolly, R. (2017). Digital culture: Why strategy and culture should eat breakfast together. In Shaping the Digital Enterprise (pp. 109-120). Springer, Cham.