سرمایه گذاری های فن آوری اطلاعات و اقدامات غیرمالی : چارچوبی پژوهشی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|23||2012||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting Forum, Volume 36, Issue 2, June 2012, Pages 109–121
Despite the substantial growth of IT investments, evidence on their impact on firm performance remains inconclusive. An important management question is whether anticipated economic benefits of IT investments are being realized. The intangible benefits obtained from IT are not captured by accrual-based accounting measures alone, and, therefore, call for a comprehensive measure that focuses on segments of performance influenced by IT investments. This study proposes a framework that utilizes nonfinancial measures to link IT investments to their intangible benefits and applies the agency theory to examine the contribution of IT investments by tying managerial compensation to firm value.
To improve their performance, organizations are investing an ever-increasing amount of money in information technology (IT). Over the last three decades, firms increased investments devoted to IT from almost 5% of nonresidential fixed investment in 1977 to approximately 21% in 2007 (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2008). Despite the rapid growth of IT investments, evidence that links IT investments to firm performance remains inconclusive. The substantial amounts invested in IT combined with the lack of evidence on their impact on firm performance put pressure on managers, researchers, and policy makers alike to explain how IT investments may contribute to firm performance. A number of studies have attempted to measure the financial impact of integrating IT into business organizations (e.g., Aral et al., 2008, Bharadwaj, 2000, Dehning and Stratopoulos, 2002, Hitt and Brynjolfsson, 1996, Kim et al., 2009, Kudyba and Diwan, 2002, Oh et al., 2006 and Santhanam and Hartono, 2003). The extant literature provides confounding evidence of the relationship between IT investments and firm economic performance, based primarily on financial measures of performance. IT investments are made based on the assumption that they have the potential to improve both the efficiency of business process and the competitive advantage of the firm. These investments can be internally or externally focused. Internally focused IT investments aim to lower the costs of doing business, improve the quality and speed of operations, eliminate repetitive business processes, and increase business flexibility. Externally focused IT investments are planned to assist the firm to gain a sustainable competitive advantage and improve its market position, particularly through the improvement of customer satisfaction ( Chatterjee et al., 2001 and Dos Santos et al., 1993). In a competitive market, firms are forced to provide these intangible benefits as the “cost of staying in the game” (Brynjolfsson, 1996, p. 282), and perceive IT investments as a strategic necessity (Clemons, 1991). Dehning, Richardson, and Zmud (2003) argue that as IT intensity increases, the benefits of IT go from clearly tangible benefits that are easily measurable (such as cost reduction) to soft or intangible benefits that are more difficult to evaluate (such as better decisions, shared understanding, greater understanding of the operating environment). Financial measures of performance are not designed to capture the expected intangible benefits that can be produced through IT investments (Gunasekaran et al., 2006, Kaplan and Norton, 1996 and Wallman, 1996). In this respect, Hitt and Brynjolfsson (1996) find that the benefits of IT investments create consumer surplus instead of firm profits. The strategic and intangible nature of benefits obtained from IT investments thus call for a different approach that utilizes nonfinancial performance measures at different levels of operation to evaluate the impact of IT investments on firm performance. Another potential explanation for the lack of consistent results in prior research is related to the possibility for increased agency costs that occur when managers over- or underinvest in IT. Based on agency theory tenets, self-serving managers may pursue corporate strategies (such as IT investments) that enhance their own utility at the expense of that of shareholders (Jensen & Meckling, 1976). When managers derive private benefits from being in charge of large firms, they are more likely to overinvest in certain IT projects that require human capital (Agarwal & Samwick, 2006). Being in charge of a large number of employees will strengthen managers’ opportunities to maintain their jobs (Shleifer & Vishny, 1989). If managers have incentives to increase certain IT expenditures at the expense of stockholders, firm performance will be negatively affected. Alternatively, the economic value of IT investments aligned with its risk profile that results from the uncertain benefits of IT creates another dilemma between chief executives and the Board of Directors. Although both parties recognize the importance of IT investments, they are aware of the immediate negative effect of these investments on the current net income and the uncertainty of their future benefits (Masli, Richardson, Sanchez, & Smith, 2008).1 Risk-averse Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) may choose to underinvest in IT when their short-term compensation is tied to the current accounting performance (Murphy, 1999). Consequently, risk-neutral stockholders may lose potential long-term returns from IT investments when the CEO emphasizes short-term profits over the long-term value of IT investments. In this sense, financial performance measurements appear to be imperfect tools when evaluating managers’ efforts (Davila & Venkatachalam, 2004), especially given recent evidence of managerial earnings manipulation of accounting-based measures of performance (e.g., Desai et al., 2006, Duh et al., 2009 and Erickson et al., 2006). Banker et al. (2000) provides empirical evidence that following the implementation of an incentive plan that incorporates nonfinancial measures, both nonfinancial and financial performance improve. In a similar vein, Campbell (2007) finds that managers’ promotion and demotion decisions are sensitive to nonfinancial measures of service quality. IT investments are not generally correlated with financial performance measures and, thus, exclusive reliance on financial measures to evaluate IT value could be insufficient and misleading. Accounting measures are lag indicators that report the outcome of past actions and are not forward-looking (Kaplan & Norton, 2001). Using accounting measures can be problematic in evaluating the return on capital investment, such as IT, that may take several years to affect a firm's bottom line due to the substantial learning curve associated with incorporating IT in business activities (Bharadwaj, Bharadwaj, & Konsynski, 1999). Exclusive reliance on financial indicators could, therefore, promote behavior that sacrifices long-term value creation for short-term benefits. Martinsons, Davison, and Dennis (1999) argue that evaluation methods that rely solely on financial measures are not well suited for the new generations of IT applications. The challenge in tracing IT investments to financial performance measures calls for a new scheme of research that measures the intangible benefits of IT investments. Consequently, the objectives of this study are (1) to develop a framework that accounts for a wider scope of IT benefits and shows the link between IT investments and agency theory, process level-based measures, and firm value, and (2) to guide future research by developing propositions and putting forward a research agenda. The proposed framework builds on the premise that an equity-based compensation plan that aligns the interests of executives with those of shareholders will provide the former with incentives to make long-term strategic IT investments. Since the impact of IT investments on firm performance hinges on the net effect of different combinations of IT investments, aggregating IT investments in one single measure is likely to lead to the misevaluation of their performance. Accordingly, our framework differentiates between the two components of IT investments (internally and externally focused) when evaluating the return on such investments using nonfinancial measures. We argue that the disclosure of these nonfinancial measures is likely to decrease information asymmetry and enhance firm value. This study contributes to the literature on management accounting and accounting information systems that has called for a refined framework to measure IT investments’ payoff (Carmeli and Tishler, 2004, Martinsons et al., 1999 and Oh et al., 2006). It contributes to management accounting literature by developing a framework based on nonfinancial measures that capture the impact of IT investments on firm performance. Kaplan and Norton (1996) emphasize the importance of measuring the benefits generated from firm investment and argue that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” (p. 24). In addition, the current study introduces agency theory to the line of research that examines the economic value of IT investments. The study further adds to the accounting information systems literature by shedding light on the role of nonfinancial measures in capturing the effects of IT investments on firm performance. Gunasekaran et al. (2006) argue that intangible benefits of IT are often neglected in the process of evaluating IT investments’ payoff. Focusing on financial measures alone, to evaluate the payoff of IT investments, led Carr (2003) to conclude that firms cannot gain competitive advantage from their investments in IT, and, therefore, encourages managers to avoid the high cost of IT leadership. Such an assertion puts pressure on the management to justify the return on IT investments. The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. The next section provides an overview about how the benefits of IT investments can be measured. The third section describes the study framework, followed by our study propositions. The final section proposes suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Although organizations are increasing their investments in IT, growing empirical literature suggests that the productivity gains from IT investments have been neutral or negative. The uncertainty regarding the payoff of IT investments arises from the challenge to link these investments to tangible performance measures. Since financial measurements alone are not capturing the expected intangible benefits of IT, they are of limited value to measure the real contribution of IT and justify the investment. Hence, a framework that emphasizes nonfinancial measures, such as quality, innovation, and consumer satisfaction, is being proposed. The disclosure of intangible benefits of IT investments decreases the information asymmetry between managers and investors regarding the potential benefits to expect from IT projects. The proposed framework introduces the agency problem between managers and investors in the process of evaluating the payoff of IT investments. Since managers can over- or underinvest in IT to achieve personal benefit, Boards of Directors should develop a compensation scheme that aligns the interests of managers with those of shareholders and promote long-term value enhancing IT investments. Integrating the agency perspective in the context of measuring the return on IT investments will provide insights for investors to better monitor the behavior of executives regarding IT spending. Ideally, empirical accounting research should be examined in the context of relevant theories and models. This task can be particularly difficult for studies focusing on topical accounting and management issues that address the payoff of intangible assets. The lack of a well-defined theory regarding the potential effects of IT investments on firm performance may explain the inconclusive results in this line of research, and, therefore, has motivated this study. Although there are difficulties related to measuring and quantifying nonfinancial benefits of IT investments, we argue that future research should focus on developing performance measures that capture the impact of IT investments on firm's operation levels where the first order effects are most likely to be realized. It would be beneficial to extend the present framework to include alternative measures of productivity for each type of IT investment and examine whether different types of IT investments have a different impact on firm performance. Since IT investments are meant to improve certain functions of business organizations, future research should link a specific IT application to specific performance measures. To illustrate, firms employ various applications of IT that are expected to have different impacts on firm performance and can be captured through monetary or nonmonetary measures. The challenge is to use those performance measures specific to the IT application in question and match them with the management objectives and business plans. Weill and Aral (2005) classify IT investments into four different portfolios: infrastructural, informational, transactional, and strategic. Each of these activities is aimed to achieve specific management objectives, and, thus, has an impact on different aspects of firm performance. Therefore, future research should differentiate between these types of IT investments and design the performance measure metrics that capture the tangible and intangible benefits of each type of these investments. A challenge to accounting research in the area of measuring the payoff of IT investments is to develop an objective and comprehensive performance matrix that defines and measures the tangible and intangible benefits expected from IT investments and takes into consideration the characteristics of the industry in which a firm operates and competes. Prior research finds that service firms allocate a higher percentage of their investments to IT than nonservice firms do (Gordon, Calantone, & Benedetto, 1993). Therefore, it would be interesting to explore whether the impact of IT investments on firm performance measured, through nonfinancial metrics, varies with the characteristics of the industry (e.g., services vs. manufacturing firms or high tech vs. nonhigh tech). Barua et al. (1991) find that IT plays a major competitive role in introducing new facilities in the service industry rather than in the nonservice industry. In a related context, Hayes et al. (2001) find that outsourcing announcements have a larger impact on service industry firms than on nonservice industry firms. Since nonfinancial information varies across industries, a study of the impact of IT on firm performance should consider each industry's unique characteristics. Future research can also advance a contingency perspective in the current framework and examine whether the return on IT investments is contingent on the environment in which a firm operates and competes. Drawing on the work of Wade and Hulland (2004), future research can explore the effects of different environmental factors on the payoff of IT investments by using this study's proposed framework. The environmental conditions describe the uncertainty that surrounds business organizations. Dess and Beard (1984) propose three different dimensions of the environment that are expected to have an impact on firm performance over time, which include environmental dynamism, munificence, and complexity. Studying nonfinancial measures of IT investments, in different environmental conditions, will provide insights on whether the impact of IT investments on firm performance varies with the characteristics of the environment in which a firm is operating and competing. It would also be interesting to investigate whether the level of IT investments has changed over time and, if it has, whether this change is associated with improvements in financial and nonfinancial indicators of firm performance. Linking the change in IT investments’ level to firm performance provides insight as to whether there is a structural shift, over time, in the role of IT investments. Future research can also examine IT investments-cash flow sensitivity to explore whether this sensitivity is a result of agency problems when managers over- or underinvest in IT projects. The implications of the agency theory in the context of IT investments are very important, since failure to lessen the cost of agency could result in a drain of the firm's resources, which in turn may put the firm at a competitive disadvantage. This is of particular interest to accounting researchers and deserves further consideration.