Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD in Business


Department of Information and Process Management

First Advisor

M. Lynne Markus

Second Advisor

Dhaval M. Dave

Third Advisor

Linda F. Edelman

Fourth Advisor

Ann Majchrzak


Digital innovation enabled by digital technologies has the potential to transform existing socioeconomic practices, processes, and structures. In spite of the transformative potential, the relation between digital innovation and resulting socioeconomic transformation has been underexplored, especially at the societal level in developing countries. To fill this research gap, this dissertation is dedicated to investigating how and why digital innovation leads to socioeconomic transformation, when it does. Drawing on the digital innovation and technological transition literatures, I propose a multilevel theoretical framework that illustrates the processes and mechanisms through which digital innovation enables socioeconomic transformation in developing countries context. This dissertation examines the framework by focusing on a particular instance of digital innovation: Mobile Money (MM) in Sub-Saharan Africa. MM provides basic financial services to both banked and unbanked population at a convenient, secure, and affordable way via mobile phones. As such, the disruptive mobile-based financial services have been argued to address financial services gap in developing countries and in particular hold the potential to play transformative roles in Sub-Saharan Africa where traditional banking infrastructure remained underdeveloped.

Based on the multilevel theoretical framework, I design and conduct three essays using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to investigate the transformative role of MM at multiple levels of analysis. Overall, the findings show that MM has been transforming the way people conduct financial transactions (i.e., money transfer and storage) and that MM, when widely adopted in a society, can serve as a digital pathway for developing countries to leapfrog the traditional financial services gap and achieve socioeconomic development. This dissertation contributes to the digital innovation by proposing and examining the multilevel framework illustrating how and why digital innovation leads to societal-level transformation. Furthermore, the findings add knowledge to the MM literature by systematically documenting empirical evidence of socioeconomic benefits across multiple levels and the potential unintended consequences. Future research agenda is proposed to further our understanding of the emerging MM phenomenon (i.e., social mechanisms) and more broadly to examine the theoretical and empirical links between digital innovation and socioeconomic transformation.