A Critical Realist Perspective of Enterprise Architecture Evolution: Conditioning and Outcomes
Keywords:Enterprise Architecture, EA, Service-oriented Architecture, SOA, critical realism, morphogenetic theory
AbstractThis paper investigates how Enterprise Architecture (EA) evolves due to emerging trends. It specifically explores how EA integrates the Service-oriented Architecture (SOA). Archer’s Morphogenetic theory is used as an analytical approach to distinguish the architectural conditions under which SOA is introduced, to study the relationships between these conditions and SOA introduction, and to reflect on EA evolution (elaborations) that then take place. The paper focuses on reasons for why EA evolution could take place, or not and what architectural changes could happen due to SOA integration. The research builds on sound theoretical foundations to discuss EA evolution in a field that often lacks a solid theoretical groundwork. Specifically, it proposes that critical realism, using the morphogenetic theory, can provide a useful theoretical foundation to study enterprise architecture (EA) evolution. The initial results of a literature review (a-priori model) were extended using explorative interviews. The findings of this study are threefold. First, there are five different levels of EA-SOA integration outcomes. Second, a mature EA, flexible and well-defined EA framework and comprehensive objectives of EA improve the integration outcomes. Third, the analytical separation using Archer’s theory is helpful in order to understand how these different integration outcomes are generated.
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