Crisis-Driven Digital Transformation: Examining the Online University Triggered by COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has major negative consequences for health and the economy. At the same time, the crisis paves the way for innovation. In the university sector, societal measures implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 have made all teaching activities 100% digital, in effect creating the online university overnight. In this chapter, we present an empirical account of this extreme situation. Based on an explorative case study of how it was possible for the social science faculty at a Danish university to undergo accelerated digital transformation, we identify three salient themes that capture the immediate organizationals response: (1) leveraging existing resources, (2) intensified communication, and (3) re-organizing core activities. We contribute with preliminary empirical insights into the practicalities of accelerating digital transformation, especially the importance of mobilizing the organization’s existing resources and knowledge as well as the organizational actors’ helpfulness and willingness to share, learn, innovate, and self-organize. Theoretically, we propose and substantiate the concept of accelerated digital transformation and present a model that summarizes the identified themes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigitalization : Approaches, Case Studies, and Tools for Strategy, Transformation and Implementation
EditorsDaniel Schallmo, Joe Tidd
Number of pages13
Publication date2021
Article number16
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-69379-4
ISBN (Electronic) 978-3-030-69380-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesManagement for Professionals


  • Accelerated
  • Case study
  • COVID-19
  • Crisis driven
  • Digital teaching
  • Digital transformation
  • Online
  • University


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