Democratising data governance: theorising workaround-centric data activities as patterns of action

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Wibisono, Arif
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University College Cork
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Data issues are detrimental and costly for organisations. So, this study investigates how employees pragmatically execute patterns of action to fix data issues. Each pattern is built upon linked workaround-centric data activities (WCDA), which are overlooked in current data governance and workaround research. Five field studies in Indonesian organisations are conducted to achieve this objective. They include a plantation company, a furniture manufacturer, a hospital, a government agency, and a university. As the research roadmap, this study conceptualises workaround-centric data issues (WCDI) and activities (WCDA) from workaround literature as taxonomies. Next, it extends a narrative network approach to model WCDA. In the end, it investigates five organisations to capture two things. First, it captures WCDA patterns of action to fix data issues. Second, it captures how employees identify data issues before fixing them. This research reveals several findings. First, workaround literature suggests that data availability and accuracy are the most frequently occurring issues. Second, the empirical work suggests that data availability and accuracy issues introduce six action patterns. It reveals that evaluate data (part of WCDA) is the common denominator for these patterns. Third, as part of evaluating data, employees execute five "checking" approaches to identify data issues: check data templates, check supervisor validation, check data accuracy, check data consistency, and check data completeness. There are three significant contributions to data governance and workaround research. First, this study challenges the mainstream assumption in data governance research. It suggests that addressing data issues must be preventive practices (e.g., pre-determined, top-down, and before the data are produced). This research shows that curative practices (e.g., reactive, bottom-up, and after the data are produced) are the norm. They exist to address immediate data needs such as managerial reporting. Second, this research challenges two widely held assumptions in workaround research: 1) a workaround is an atomic process, and 2) a workaround is an isolated process. It opens the workaround black box and shows that a workaround can consist of interlinked WCDA (e.g., a pattern of action). So, a workaround is neither atomic nor isolated. Third, this study progresses our understanding of WCDA and their relationships (as patterns of action). It identifies WCDA types from the literature. After that, it identifies WCDA patterns to address data issues from field studies. These patterns provide non-managerial employees with plausible pictures to govern data with minimal top-management intervention. These patterns allow employees to reflect on their work and present these creative practices to top management whenever necessary. Therefore, these patterns democratise data governance in organisations by making governance meaningful for operational employees. In the end, this research discusses theoretical contributions and managerial implications for data governance research and practices.
Workarounds , Data governance , Workaround-centric data activities , Workaround-centric data issues , Data quality , Organisational routines , Data management , Report production , Patterns of action
Wibisono, A. 2023. Democratising data governance: theorising workaround-centric data activities as patterns of action. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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