Organizational adoption of Robotic Process Automation: managing the performativity of hype
Keywords:RPA, hype, adoption, automation, organizational change, performativity
Robotic process automation (RPA) has recently been subject to colossal hype. Although hype and expectations around technological innovation have been researched at length, there is limited research into the impact of hype at a firm level from an adopter’s perspective. Through an inductive multi-case study of five organizations from the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector that have adopted RPA over the past five years, we attempted to answer the question: how does RPA technology hype reach the shores of organizations and what adoption behaviour and decision making does it drive? Findings point to the critical role of senior management as instigators of adoption and legitimation, which goes beyond the sponsorship role identified in extant theory. Results also demonstrate that RPA adoption is driven by a ‘hunt’ for use cases by interdisciplinary teams, which exposes long-standing operational problems while at the same time offers opportunities for organizational learning. We contribute to a theoretical understanding of the organizational performativity of hype and draw lessons for industry practitioners considering RPA and other hyped technologies for organizational adoption.