Shaping Agility through Digital Options: Reconceptualizing the Role of Information Technology in Contemporary Firms

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Abstract

Agility is vital to the innovation and competitive performance of firms in contemporary business environments. Firms are increasingly relying on information technologies, including process, knowledge, and communication technologies, to enhance their agility. The purpose of this paper is to broaden understanding about the strategic role of IT by examining the nomological network of influences through which IT impacts firm performance. By drawing upon recent thinking in the strategy, entrepreneurship, and IT management literatures, this paper uses a multitheoretic lens to argue that information technology investments and capabilities influence firm performance through three significant organizational capabilities (agility, digital options, and entrepreneurial alertness) and strategic processes (capability-building, entrepreneurial action, and coevolutionary adaptation). We also propose that these dynamic capabilities and strategic processes impact the ability of firms to launch many and varied competitive actions and that, in turn, these competitive actions are a significant antecedent of firm performance. Through our theorizing, we draw attention to a significant and reframed role of IT as a digital options generator in contemporary firms.

Additional Details

Author V. Sambamurthy, Anandhi Bharadwaj, and Varun Grover
Year 2003
Volume 27
Issue 2
Keywords IT competence, strategic agility, digital options, process capital, knowledge capital
Page Numbers 237-263