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Posted on Nov 5, 2010 in Research summaries

Chen et al 2010: Information Systems Strategy: Reconceptualization, Measurement, and Implications

Chen, Daniel; Mocker, Martin; Preston, David S.; and Teubner, Alexander. 2010. "Information Systems Strategy: Reconceptualization, Measurement, and Implications," MIS Quarterly, (34: 2) pp.233-259.

This is a systematic literature review that generates a new conceptualization of information systems strategy.

  • Rationale: The term "information systems strategy" (IS strategy or ISS), not to be confused with "IT strategy", is often used, but not clearly defined or conceptualized in the research literature. It is evidently very important, but without a clear conceptualization, research cannot concretely advance and make contributions.
  • Objectives: The study attempts to develop a new conceptualization of ISS solidly based on the past research literature and on practitioner needs.
  • Theoretical background: The study first draws from ontological studies of strategy from strategic management, that is, studies that try to conceptualize what strategy is or means. The authors prefer the conceptualization of strategy as a particular organizational perspective. They define ISS as "the organizational perspective on the investment in, deployment, use, and management of information systems." In IS literature, they identify three streams of conceptualizations of ISS: 1) the "use of IS to support business strategy"; 2) the overarching plan of the IS function in an organization; and 3) a "shared view of [the] IS role within the organization" (p. 239).
  • Key questions: What typology of IS strategy emerges from the literature? Does this typology withstand empirical testing? What are the theoretical and practical implications of this typology?
  • Methodology: Employing a systematic literature review (which they employed as part of the study's literature review), they first derived their typology as their synthesis of the literature. To test their typology, they developed a scale to measure their derived typology (however, it is unclear how they developed the items on the scale). They tested the scale on CEOs and CIOs, employing factor analysis to validate the scale and typology.
  • Variables and data sources, if any: They surveyed 174 CIOs and CEOs of the same organizations, generally US organizations with over $1 million in revenue, asking them to respond to their three-construct scale.
  • Key findings: Organizational IS strategy falls into three kinds: IS innovator, IS conservative, and undefined strategy.
  • Key contribution to knowledge: The authors provide a clear, reasoned definition of IS strategy. They provide an empirically-validated typology of IS strategies.
  • Key implications: They generated several implications for three ISS research streams (strategic IS planning, IS strategic alignment, and IS for competitive advantage) based on their three IS strategy types.
  • Comments: This rigorous study provides a theoretically reasoned definition to a commonly used but poorly defined concept, IS strategy. Their development of a typology and measurement scale (with empirical validation) is very valuable; however, the mechanical details of the development of the typology and scale items are not very clear to me from the study.

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