Student Theses and Projects: Success Factors for Managing Digital Transformation Initiatives in Established Organizations


Thesis (MA/DA/Projektstudium), Reference-number 2019-186

Advisor(s): David Soto Setzke


Organizations are radically changing the way they create and capture value using digital technologies [1,2]. Digital transformation (DT) initiatives are started to support organizations in governing the transformation towards digital businesses. Companies such as SAP or Hilti have successfully managed to innovate and sustain their business model using digital technologies through large-scale transformation initiatives [3,4]. However, the mere existence and formulation of an initiative does not guarantee its success. Although General Electric (GE) equipped many of its products with sensors, built an own Internet of Things platform, and adopted new business models, the stock price continues to languish and provoked the departure of its former CEO [5]. The goal of this thesis is to identify success factors for DT initiatives in established organizations and to examine how these factors interact with each other. Based on these findings, the student will derive guidelines that can be applied by top executives in established organizations. The student will get access to either a large set of interview transcripts and document data from 30 high-quality case studies of high-profile organizations or a large set of already published case reports. Alternatively, the student can also conduct new case studies.


Potential Task(s)

  • Analyze interview and document data from 30 case studies of digital transformation in high-profile organizations
  • Analyze published case reports on digital transformation initiatives in established organizations
  • Conduct new case studies on digital transformation initiatives in established organizations in order to identify success factors



  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Interest and experience in mixed method research
  • Very good grades and a good command of English and German language are beneficial
  • First experiences with configurational research methods such as (fuzzy-set) Qualitative Comparative Analysis are beneficial



[1] Riasanow, T., Soto Setzke, D., Böhm, M., Krcmar, H. (2019). Clarifying the Notion of Digital Transformation: A Transdiciplinary Review of Literature. In: Journal of Competences, Strategy and Management, 10, pp. 5-36.

[2] Vial, G. (2019). Understanding digital transformation: A review and a research agenda. In: The Journal of Strategic Information Systems.

[3] vom Brocke, J., M. Fay, T. Schmiedel, M. Petry, F. Krause and T. Teinzer (2016). A Journey of Digital Innovation and Transformation: The Case of Hilti. In: G. Oswald and M. Kleinemeier (Eds.), Shaping the Digital Enterprise, p. 237-251. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

[4] Schreieck, M., M. Wiesche, T. Kude and H. Krcmar (2019). "Shifting to the Cloud – How SAP’s Partners Cope with the Change." In: 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Maui, HI, USA.

[5] Davenport, T. H. and G. Westerman (2018). Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail. (visited on 04/09/2018).


Further Information

The topic can be adopted according to your interests. The thesis can be written in English or German. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please send your application including our application form, "Notenauszug" from TUMonline, and CV to Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents.