The electronic mountain: A tale of two tels

Alon Peled*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Federal computer projects frequently fail because federal organizations are mandated to follow an erroneous Enterprise Architecture (EA) metaphor. The article promotes an alternative metaphor that highlights the principles of incremental evolution, learning, exploration and slow adaptation, experimentation, and minimal architecture. To advance this approach, the archaeological history of excavating the oldest man-made mountain (Tel Gezer where 28 ancient civilizations are layered one on top of the other) is compared with the history of modernizing the latest man-made mountain (the Internal Revenue Service's main computer systems where numerous generations of computer programs are layered one on top of the other). Through this most unusual "comparative tale," the article also exposes the human characteristics of successful federal information technology project leaders: humility, curiosity, and patience.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)458-478
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Computer systems modernization
  • E-democracy
  • E-governance
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Leadership
  • Metaphor analysis
  • Public organizations


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