نقش قابلیت های IS ارائه پیشرفت پایدار بر انتخاب موقعیت رقابتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|403||2009||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Volume 18, Issue 2, June 2009, Pages 100–116
It has long been argued that organizations have struggled to achieve business benefits, and in particular sustainable competitive advantage, from their IT investments. In this paper we draw upon resource-based theory to explore how the effective deployment of IS capabilities might deliver sustainable improvements to an organization’s competitive positioning. In so doing, this research makes a significant departure from the enterprise-level orientation of prior studies, by focusing upon the role of IS capabilities in leveraging sustainable improvements to competitive positioning from individual IS initiatives. Based upon the responses to a quantitative and qualitative survey of practicing managers, it has been shown that an organization’s ability to leverage and sustain improvements in its competitive positioning, from IS initiatives, are directly dependent upon its ability to effectively apply an appropriate portfolio of IS capabilities. Moreover, it has been shown that sustainable improvements in competitive positioning are most likely in circumstances in which the successful outcome of an IS initiative is dependent upon ‘outside-in’ and ‘spanning’ capabilities, which are both lacking in transparency and difficult to replicate.
Over the past 30 years a great deal of academic effort has been devoted to better understanding how the deployment of IT might support improvements to an organization’s operational performance (Brynjolfsson and Hitt, 1996 and Hitt et al., 2002). Within this broad domain, a significant number of researchers have been particularly interested in exploring the extent to which the innovative application of IT might have the potential to deliver an outright competitive advantage to their adopters (Mata et al., 1995, Powell and Dent-Micallef, 1997 and Dehning and Stratopoulos, 2003). Much of the early work in this field (Ives and Learmonth, 1984 and Porter and Millar, 1986) adopted a ‘competitive forces’ perspective, in which competitive advantage is attained when IT is used innovatively to re-write the rules of competition by significantly lowering costs or facilitating differentiation. However, it wasn’t long before serious questions were being asked about the sustainability of these strategic information systems ( Clemons, 1986 and Galliers, 1993). More recent contributors to this debate have used the ‘strategic necessity hypothesis’ (Powell and Dent-Micallef, 1997), to argue that it is unlikely that any individual application of IT will deliver a sustainable competitive advantage. This is so because it is relatively easy for firms to understand, and then copy their competitors’ systems, and that failure to do so, will leave them competitively disadvantaged (Melville et al., 2004). However, even if one accepts that the IT artifact, no matter how innovatively applied, is always susceptible to imitation, it is then possible to draw two very different inferences from this insight. One group of authors would infer from the ‘strategic necessity hypothesis’, that IT is now such a readily accessible, affordable and homogenous commodity that has limited potential to deliver a sustainable competitive advantage ( Carr, 2003 and Thatcher and Pingry, 2007). By contrast, others would use the resource-based theory of the firm ( Wernerfelt, 1984 and Barney, 1991) to contend that it is possible to gain a strategic advantage if the adoption of information systems is supported through the deployment of an appropriate portfolio of complementary resources and capabilities (Wade and Hulland, 2004). From these contrasting views, a very lively debate has erupted, within the information systems community, as to whether IT can provide a differential advantage to individual firms (Bhatt and Grover, 2005), or whether because of its ubiquity, ‘IT doesn’t matter’ (Carr, 2003). Against this backdrop, the broad aim of this paper is to draw upon resource-based theory, to explore whether it is possible to identify a portfolio of IS-related resources/capabilities that are necessary to facilitate the delivery of sustainable improvements in competitive positioning from the application of business IT. However, in so doing, we make a significant departure from previous studies by using individual IS initiatives as the unit of analysis, and explore the competitive impacts of IT at the process level. To this end, the remainder of the paper proceeds as follows. The next section presents a critical review of the literature, from which the study’s specific objectives are derived. We then develop a conceptual framework, before presenting a review of the research methods that were applied to collect data to test the model. The framework then provides the basis for a mixed, quantitative and qualitative analysis, which is presented in the Section 5. We conclude by summarizing the findings and limitations of our study, and by proposing an agenda for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This wide-ranging study makes a number of important contributions to the information management and strategic management literatures. The aim, therefore, of this section of the paper is to clearly identify and critically review the nature of these contributions, before articulating the study’s implications, limitations and areas for future research. As the work of researchers such as Powell and Dent-Micallef, 1997 and Bhatt and Grover, 2005 have provided many important new insights the role of IS capabilities in enhancing organizational performance, they have been extremely influential in the genesis of this study. However, because these effects have been measured at the enterprise level, such studies can be criticized because they have not been able to demonstrate any direct causal linkage between the application of IS capabilities, and the delivery of improvements in competitive positioning (Ray et al., 2004). Against this backdrop, we chose to follow Barua et al., 1995 and Piccoli and Ives, 2005 advice by using individual strategic initiatives as the unit of analysis to study the competitive impacts of IT. In so doing, this study presents new evidence that it is the effective application of IS capabilities – to the design, implementation and operation of individual IS enhancements – that has the potential to deliver significant improvements to the organization’s competitive positioning, as measured at the process level (see Fig. 1: objectives #1 and #3). Moreover, as this study has broken new ground by exploring the impacts of IT capabilities at the level of individual IS initiatives, it has been able to provide some important new insights with regard to the areas in which improvements in competitive positioning are most likely to be attained. Broadly, it is has been shown that it is the operational processes that map onto the primary activities of Porter’s (1985) ‘value chain’, in which improvements in competitive positioning are most likely to be realized. One possible explanation for this is that systems applied to operating processes are more bespoke than their counterparts for support processes, and are thus dependent upon a greater number of IS capabilities. For example, the need for a new accounting or human resources system would almost certainly be satisfied through the purchase of an off-the-shelf package, whilst an IS for production planning and control may very well need to be tailored to an organization’s particular operational requirements. Another area in which this study has made a significant departure from the extant literature (see Table 1), is by explicitly investigating the extent to which IS capabilities are judged to be transparent and replicable, and the duration of any resultant improvements in competitive positioning (see Fig. 1: objectives #2 and #4). In so doing, it has been possible to demonstrate that when it comes to leveraging and sustaining competitive advantage, not all IS capabilities are equal, as important empirical support has been provided for Wade and Hulland’s (2004) hypothesis that ‘spanning’ and ‘outside-in’ capabilities are likely to exert the most significant impact. The most likely explanation of this result is that any improvements in competitive positioning are not solely dependent upon the application of IS capabilities, but are also require the ‘co-presence’ of other ‘complementary organizational resources’ ( Powell and Dent-Micallef, 1997 and Piccoli and Ives, 2005), such as organizational culture, leadership and/or unique business processes, etc. Indeed, the results of the qualitative element of our study have shown that it is the capabilities that extend beyond the boundaries of the IT department, which tend to be less transparent and easily replicated, as they are based upon complex relationships between a variety of stakeholders. In their totality, these findings offer significant new support for the argument (Galliers, 2007 and Porter, 2001) that it is not the introduction of information technology, per se, from which improvements in competitive positioning are likely to spring: organizations wishing to leverage improvements in competitive positioning, must invest in, and be able to effectively apply, an appropriate portfolio of enterprise-wide capabilities, to ensure that they are better able to conceive, develop, implement and above all use their information technologies (Wade and Hulland, 2004). However, it must also be recognized that such capabilities cannot be conjured up at short notice, but will require careful planning and nurturing over a protracted period (Peppard and Ward, 2004). These findings offer a number of important implications for managers within the business community seeking to deliver improvements in competitive positioning from their investments in IT. For example, the results of this study suggest that success will only come through a long-term program of investment in a coherent and integrated portfolio of complementary capabilities, which are both inwardly and outwardly facing. Moreover, they should be aware that many of the capabilities – and in particular the ‘spanning’ and ‘outside-in’ capabilities – are likely to be enterprise-wide, extending well beyond the boundaries of the IT function. Such insights are of particular importance at this period of time, when many organizations are still experiencing significant problems in leveraging value and improvements in competitive positioning from their IT investments ( Kiel, 1995 and Ashurst et al., 2008). The findings of this study should also be of great interest to the researcher, as it has demonstrated that it is possible to use the individual IS initiative as the locus for resource-based studies of the competitive impacts of IT. In so doing, this study has identified and validated many new variables, which might be usefully incorporated in future research. In particular, the novel conceptualization and operationalization of our process-oriented measures of ‘ICP’, and ‘SICP’ – could be applied within future studies of the delivery of value from IT investments. Research within complex organizational settings will invariably contain a number of inherent limitations, as compromises and trade-offs are always necessary (McGrath, 1982 and Scandura and Williams, 2000). For example, prior RBV studies of the impact of IT upon organizational performance (see Table 1), have typically sought ‘external validity’ (the ability to generalize), at the expense of ‘internal validity’ (the ability to demonstrate causality). By contrast, as this study has explicitly adopted a research strategy which primarily sought to shed light upon the nature of any causal relationships between resource application and organizational performance, some compromises have had to be made with respect to the generalizability of the results. More specifically, we believed that the only way to ensure a reasonable response rate from a highly complex, in-depth and commercially sensitive questionnaire was through the adoption of a ‘convenience’ sample. However, we believe that by securing a sample that was varied in terms of organizational size and sector we have managed to overcome some of the typical problems associated with ‘convenience’ sampling. Moreover, by introducing a significant qualitative element to the study, not only have we been able to validate the causal chain linking the deployment of IS capabilities, through the success of an IS initiative, to the degree of ICP leveraged through the IS initiative, but we have also been able to rule out alternative interpretations of the statistical results. Other limitations, of this study, relate to the use of a ‘single-informant’, and the use of some ‘single item’ measures in the statistical analyses, are both approaches, that in an ideal world, might have been done differently. Consequently, although this study provides many interesting and novel insights, there is now a pressing need for follow-up studies, which employ different methods and target different populations. In particular, we are now keen to undertake some more detailed, longitudinal case studies, to explore this phenomena more closely, and in so doing, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the specific mechanisms by which IS capabilities deliver sustainable improvements in competitive positioning.