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Cloud computing adoption within organisations

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar disputerer med avhandlingen «Understanding Cloud Computing Adoption within Organizations» den 1. juni 2016.

- How can we understand the phenomenon of CC adoption within organizations?

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar

Doctoral research fellow at the Department of Information Systems

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly important. For her doctoral thesis, Rania Fahim El-Gazzar studied how cloud computing is used, primarily in business organisations.

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar is defending her doctoral thesis titled "Understanding Cloud Computing Adoption within Organizations" at the Department of Information Systems. For her thesis, she has researched what factors play a part when a business organisation adopt cloud computing technology.

These central questions are asked: What are the institutional factors that affect cloud computing adoption in organisations – and how do institutional factors shape cloud computing adoption strategies?

Two case studies provide the thesis with empirical data: One from Egypt and one from Norway, totalling 46 informants. Rania Fahim El-Gazzar has identified a number of institutional factors that affect how cloud computing is adopted. Internal factors such as IT structure, organisation type and internal stakeholders, and external factors such as laws and regulations, cloud computing providers, socio-political changes, and culture are the most important factors.

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar has followed the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences, specialising in information systems, and the research is funded by regular PhD grant.

The candidate’s own description of the thesis’:

Understanding Cloud Computing Adoption within Organizations

The aim of this PhD thesis is to understand the phenomenon of Cloud Computing (CC) adoption through the following main Research Question (RQ):

  • How can we understand the phenomenon of CC adoption within organizations?

This research question is addressed by exploring two Sub Questions (SQs) which, through different accounts, explain the importance of the institutional factors’ influence on CC adoption. These SQs are:

  • What are the institutional factors that affect CC adoption in organizations?
  • How do institutional factors shape CC adoption strategies?

Research methods

The research study in this thesis has provided results based on three research methods: (1) a systematic literature review; (2) two case studies, one from Egypt, and a second from Norway, and (3) a ranking-type Delphi study in which three different subpanels of experts were involved who represented various stakeholders (i.e., clients, providers, and academics). This research took place from September 2012 until March 2015.

The total number of informants was 46 who have contributed to the empirical studies in terms of interviews and/or Delphi surveys. The aim of the research approach used was to provide rich insights into understanding the CC adoption phenomenon through the shared experiences of the informants involved and their different views on the same phenomenon. In particular, I aimed to gather additional data related to the Egyptian and Norwegian contexts. By including the different views of informants from different contexts and domain backgrounds on the same phenomenon, this thesis was able to identify a breadth of institutional factors and CC adoption strategies.

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar har brukt informanter både fra Norge og hjemlandet Egypt i forskningen. (Foto: Privat)

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar has used informants both from Norway and her home country of Egypt for her research (Private photo)

Part of the data analysis was carried out by applying statistical methods to generate results from the narrowing-down and ranking surveys of the Delphi study. Furthermore, the inputs from the brainstorming questionnaire were coded to generate the consolidated list of CC adoption issues. The other part of the analysis was carried out using concepts from neo-institutional theory; these concepts are isomorphic pressures and strategic responses to institutional processes. The results generated from applying neo-institutional theory and statistical methods were triangulated to identify: (1) the external and internal institutional factors that influence, either by facilitating or hindering the adoption of CC services in organizations, and (2) CC adoption strategies.

Strongly influenced by Institutional factors

The findings from this thesis indicate that the CC adoption phenomenon can be understood through the external and internal institutional factors that have an important influence on CC adoption strategies.

These adoption strategies are shaped by the interplay of institutional factors. Hence, in this thesis, eight institutional factors have been identified, together with three CC adoption strategies that are shaped by these factors.

Five external factors have been identified that are related to the external social environment, both locally and globally (i.e., governments and regulatory bodies, cloud providers, media, socio-political changes, and culture).

Three internal factors have been identified that are related to the internal social and technical environment of organizations (i.e., internal stakeholders, firm characteristics, and IT infrastructure).

The importance of these factors identified from the Delphi rankings indicates that organizations are encouraged take them into consideration when adopting CC services. The identified strategies are: efficiency-motivated adoption, legitimacy-motivated adoption, and non-adoption. Furthermore, the findings from this study are compared with the research gaps that exist in the literature 


This thesis offers contributions to: (1) the area of CC adoption by identifying external and internal institutional factors and CC adoption strategies through a mixed research approach of quantitative and qualitative methods. This has created a rich understanding of CC adoption phenomenon and (2) utilizing the neo-institutional theory to achieve a broader and richer understanding of the CC adoption phenomenon.

In addition, this thesis offers implications for practice. From the brainstorming phase of the Delphi study, a list of 55 identified issues has been generated to be of concern regarding the adoption of CC. These issues have been coded and grouped into 10 categories: (1) security, (2) availability, (3) migration, (4) business, (5) legal and ethical concerns, (6) culture, (7) awareness, (8) impact, (9) strategy, and (10) IT governance. These issues are suggested by the Delphi panelists as important for executives and managers in general to take into account when considering CC investments.

Practical implications

The practical implications of this study are aimed at clients, cloud providers, and law-makers.

Clients need to: (1) have a business case that is driven by business needs rather than IT costs, and (2) make a good estimation of the required change and communicate this with internal stakeholders in a convincing way.

Cloud providers need to: (1) be strategic in sensing the different demands of different markets, and reflecting these demands in their marketing campaigns, and (2) consider clients’ security requirements, which differ from the security already on offer.

Law-makers need to learn from the financial industry about how to build an ecosystem for the global exchange of data rather than money in the cloud; such an exchange must be based on trust and international governance practices.

Further research

This thesis also offers several opportunities for future research. In particular, it points to the benefits of a comparative analysis (e.g., countries and/or sectors) using a new theoretical lens such as management fashion. This would provide an insight into how cloud providers, consultants, governments, and academics perceive different market demands, and how they respond to these demands when promoting CC services 

This thesis also encourages IS researchers to: (1) explore factors that influence the adoption of particular service models (e.g., SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS or public, private, and hybrid), and (2) conduct longitudinal studies on CC adoption, which can provide valuable implications on the entire CC adoption experience.

Last but not least, the results from the Delphi study indicate the need for further research on the various concerning CC adoption issues that were revealed among the panelists.

The contributions of this thesis are based on incorporating the empirical work published in five papers.

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar (Foto: Privat)

Rania Fahim El-Gazzar (Private photo)

Disputation facts:

Candidate: Rania Fahim El-Gazzar, born 1984 in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.( But nationality and home country is Egypt and she lives in Alexandria city, she underlines). BA and MA: Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) in Alexandria, Egypt.

Trial lecture and public defense will take place in Gabriel Scott’s auditorium B1-001, Campus Kristiansand

The disputation is led by Head of department Professor Leif Skiftenes Flak.

Trial lecture at Wednesday, 1 June 2016, 10:15

Stated topic for trial lecture: "How secure is our Information in the Cloud?"

Public defence at Wednesday, 1 June 2016, 12:00

Title of thesis: «Understanding Cloud Computing Adoption within Organizations»

Search for the thesis in AURA – Agder University Research Archive – a digital archive for academic articles, theses and master’s dissertations by employees and students at the University of Agder. AURA is updated regularly.


First opponent: Professor Tero Päivärinta, Luleå University of Technology

Second opponent: Associate Professor Karin Bernsmed, NTNU

The Evaluation Committee is headed by Professor Maung Kyaw Sein, UiA

Supervisors for the doctoral work were Associate Professor Eli Hustad, UiA and Professor Dag Håkon Olsen, UiA