Under the wave of digitalization, enterprises are experiencing unprecedented and profound changes in their technology and market environments. The ability of integrating into the new strategic environment through digital transformation determines the future innovation capability and profitability of organizations to a large extent. Existing studies have explored the influencing factors and realization mechanisms of enterprise digital transformation extensively, but insufficient attention has been paid to relationship and behavioral factors. The inter-organizational relationship based on executive ties may have a significant impact on the strategic decisions of enterprise digital transformation. Using the data of China’s A-share listed companies from 2008 to 2019, this paper identifies the inter-organizational relationship based on executive ties, and regards the party with a higher level of digital transformation as a tied enterprise and the party with a lower level of digital transformation as a focal enterprise accordingly. Based on this, the panel data model is employed to examine the realization mechanisms and boundary conditions of enterprise digital transformation strategy diffusion.
It is found that digital transformation strategies can be diffused from early adopters to late followers through executive ties. The performance of early adopters, the similarity between the two sides of the tie, and the strength of the relationship all have positive moderate effects on this process of inter-organizational strategy diffusion. The diffusion of enterprise digital transformation strategies based on executive ties involves both technical process and social process. It is further found that the effective corporate governance of late followers can promote the technical process while inhibiting the social process. At the same time, environmental uncertainty amplifies the impact of social process and weakens the role of technical process.
The marginal contributions of this paper are as follows: First, the analytical framework based on the innovation diffusion theory helps to reveal the influencing and driving factors of enterprise digital transformation strategies more comprehensively, providing a new research perspective for the exploration of related fields. Second, the theoretical research on the influencing factors of digital transformation is expanded from individual enterprise level to inter-organizational relationships and behavioral interactions based on this, which reveals the decision-making logic of this major strategic change more completely. Third, it reveals the mechanisms of both technical process and social process in enterprise digital transformation strategy diffusion, which provides a reference framework for subsequent studies. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the behavioral patterns of enterprise digital transformation and provides theoretical guidance for organizations to make and implement digital transformation strategy decisions more scientifically and rationally.