How network context influences strategic information systems planning: two cases from Helsinki's metropolitan area

Broek, Tijs van den (2008) How network context influences strategic information systems planning: two cases from Helsinki's metropolitan area.

Abstract:Public services are increasingly transcending organizational borders. Yet, Strategic Information Systems Planning (SISP) is mostly studied within organizations. Recently, however, preliminary attempts are made to study SISP on a network level. As the network studies up to now focus on the planning process and its outcome, we choose to study contextual factors that give input to the process and effectiveness of inter-organizational (IO) SISP. This thesis aims to explore - by means of in-depth semi-structured interviews - how different network contexts - both strong and weak network ties - may lead to different SISP approaches and success. By analyzing the transcriptions of audio taped interviews with the qualitative data analysis program NVivo, factors that influence SISP in a network were derived. As there is almost no previous research on contextual factors of SISP in networks, SISP literature has been systematically reviewed to derive SISP factors on the organizational level. This literature review was then combined with seminal work in the field of network literature. From these literatures the following major contextual factors that influence SISP in a network were found: 1) the external environment or weak ties of the network 2) the strong ties of the network, 3) Input dimensions, consisted of the nature of the planned IS and informational and noninformational resources committed to the SISP process. Two cases were conducted in Helsinki's metropolitan area to empirically explore the factors found in the systematic literature review. The first case regarded the planning of an online identification and payment system that supports the public services of municipalities. The formulation of an inter-organizational IS plan in the capital area served as a second case study. Key stakeholders in the planning process of both networks were interviewed to evaluate the context, process and effectiveness. Several conclusions were drawn from the cross-case analysis: - The comprehensiveness of the planning process should fit the complexity and dynamics of the network and its environment in order to keep track of all strong and weak ties. - Environmental uncertainty can reinforce strong ties within the network and increases the use of hierarchical network mechanism, which increases the degree of planning. - IO SISP that builds on prior experience and existing relations will increase trust in the planning process, which further stimulates the learning process. The degree to which SISP is a learning process also depends on how the network and its partners deal with the conservation and diffusion of knowledge. - As networks are less hierarchical, the IT function is mainly decentralized and fairly informal, which decreases the rationality of the planning process. - Informational resources, such as the input of a strategy or policy, have an influence on the noninformational resources. - The degree of informational and non-informational resources provided to the research process depends on the perceived importance of SISP and the planned information systems. This research has important implications for practitioners: first, they should think of the fit of their network and how they approach SISP. On one hand a balance between control and agility and on the other hand a balance of the level of detail is needed for the success of the SISP process. Last, managers should recognize IOSISP as important and provide sufficient human resources to the process.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Industrial Engineering and Management MSc (60029)
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