University of Twente Student Theses


Designing a tool for norm interventions in IT strategy projects

Dalen, J.J.M. van (2011) Designing a tool for norm interventions in IT strategy projects.

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Abstract:Changing an IT strategy, actually executing an IT strategy, can be problematic. Many IT strategies are developed but never executed. This same problem is likely to hold up in other project activities were planning and execution is separated in time. Typically, a consultancy firm helps a client to develop an IT strategy. Once the IT strategy is put on paper, the client chooses to implement it. Subsequently, the client often fails in implementing the developed strategy. A substantial part of this failure can be attributed to behavioral aspects. One could argue, to increase the success rate, we have to intervene in such a way that we can influence the behavior of the people executing the strategy. Behavior can be changed in multiple ways. A method which is not regularly used in business is the use of social norms. Social norms are social rules that guide human behavior. As it turns out, social norms can be used to influence behavior over a longer period of time. There are some difficulties with social norm interventions. The social norm interventions are unknown to consultants. Further, social norms can backfire when used in the wrong situations. In this thesis, a tool has been developed which uses social norms to increase the success of implementing IT strategies. Literature on social norm interventions, expert interviews and cases are used to build and validate the tool. The final tool exists of four steps: Step 1: Determine the target behavior. Which behavior is targeted by the intervention? Some behaviors are stronger effected by norm interventions than others. Also, the behavior must impact the IT strategy project as well. For example the Key Success Factors of the project. Taking into account this kind of variables, the first step is determining the behavior that should be changed. After step 1, it is known which norm and which behavior are being targeted. Step 2: Determine the current situation. Every situation is unique. For each situation a different norm intervention is useful. In step 2 a questionnaire is used to determine the current situation. The questionnaire measures the current norms in the situations. The result of step 2 is a better understanding of the situation. Step 3: Determine which intervention is most suitable for the situation. Via a mapping the right intervention can be selected. A difficulty with social norm intervention is that they can backfire if used in the wrong situation. The mapping defines 5 possible situations, and for each of these situations suitable interventions care given. Selection the situation will be done based on the analysis made in step 2. This is an easy step for the consultant, because in this thesis such easy mapping is provided, helping to determine the right intervention for the IT strategy project. After step 3, it should be known which interventions can be used in this situation. 4 Step 4: Execute the interventions. In this step it is explained how interventions have to be executed. Many interventions involve sending a message to people involved in the IT strategy project. This message contains a norm of some sort. For example: “80% of the people in this company collaborate with another department on a weekly basis”. Interventions have to be adjusted for each setting. The information collected in step two has to be used to fine-tune an intervention. Further, based on the result of the execution the intervention has to be repeated. Together, these four steps form a guide to successfully execute a norm intervention. Based on the discussions, literature and cases, other conclusions are made as well:  The knowledge on social norm interventions is both welcome and practical from a business perspective  Social norms play an important role in IT strategy settings  There are three variables (subjective norm, descriptive norm and actual performance) which can be used to determine for a situation which norm interventions are most suitable  These variables can be put into a mapping, with good practical value, that is easy to use for consultants, that helps to quickly determine which social norm intervention is suitable in a given situation. The mapping also proves to be sufficiently valid to consider in academic use.  The mapping has limitations, and noninvolved users should use the mapping with caution There are some limitations of this study.  The methods that are used are good for initial investigation only  Validating the effect of the tool on IT strategy success is to be determined by experts. The tool is not actually used in any IT strategy situation.  The first step of the tool has not been properly validated.  The mapping is only validated for “archetypical” situations. The marginal cases are unknown and unclear.  There has been scarce investigation about the generalizability of the findings. To summarize: the result is a four step tool that can be used in IT strategy settings to increase the success of implementation of that strategy. The tool is easy to use and has sufficient validation for practical use. Although the tool is ready for use, the limitations of tool and method should be taken into account.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:54 computer science
Programme:Business Information Technology MSc (60025)
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