Alignment of the IS Functions With the Enterprise: Toward a Model of Antecedents

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Abstract

Identifying the best way to organize the IS functions within an enterprise has been a critical IS management issue since the mid-1980s. Yet to date, MIS researchers have offered little empirical evidence on which to base guidelines for the practitioner. This study seeks to explain a firm's IS organization design decision for a decentralized, centralized, or "hybrid" locus of responsibility from an expanded set of environmental, overall organizational, and IS-specific antecedants as well as a larger concept of organizational alignment. Potential antecedents are selected from prior contingency research and the IS literature; other variables emerge from the data collection. Data collected via on-site interviews from IS and general managers in six multi-divisional firms, paired by industry, confirm that centralized, decentralized, and hybrid IS structures exist -- but often not in ''pure'' form -- and that industry type is not a strong predictor. Data was also collected via survey form on the importance of potential antecedents for a recent IS design change in each firm. Based on both qualitative and quantitative data, four configurations are discussed; patterns of antecedents that are associated with (1) highly centralized or (2) highly decentralized IS structures; and patterns of antecdents that explain a firm's choice to (3) decentralize of (4) recentralize systems development and application planning functions in particular. A model based on these configurations is then proposed. The article concludes with implications for researchers and practioners .

Additional Details

Author Carol V. Brown and Sharon L. Magill
Year 1994
Volume 18
Issue 4
Keywords IS centralizatoin/decentralization, structure of the IS function, issues in organizing IS, IS management, organizational design
Page Numbers 371-403