Explorative Study on the Influence of National Cultures on Business/IT Alignment Maturity

Explorative Study on the Influence of National Cultures on Business/IT Alignment Maturity

A.J.Gilbert Silvius (Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands), Steven De Haes (University of Antwerp – Antwerp Management School, Belgium) and Wim Van Grembergen (University of Antwerp – Antwerp Management School, Belgium)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/jitbag.2010040103
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Abstract

A key success factor for a successful company in a dynamic environment is effective and efficient information technology (IT) supporting business strategies and processes. Organizations that successfully align their business strategy and their IT strategy outperform their non-aligned peers (Chan et al., 1997). In recent surveys IT executives consistently name IT to Business alignment their top-concern. The alignment between business needs and IT capabilities is therefore still a prominent area of concern. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the alignment challenge by exploring the impact of (national) cultures on the maturity of business / IT alignment (BIA).The paper relies on Hofstede’s framework of cultural dimensions (Hofstede, 1980) to understand the concept of national culture. After a brief introduction on BIA and Luftman’s framework for measuring BIA maturity (Luftman, 2000), the authors analyze the influence of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions on the variables of BIA maturity. This conceptual exercise is than tested in a small-scale empirical exploration by comparing BIA maturity scores of Belgium and Dutch financial institutions. The results support a potential effect of national cultures on BIA maturity, especially in ‘governance maturity’ and ‘skills maturity’, but not all expected results are confirmed.
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Introduction

Information technology (IT) is changing the way companies organize their business processes, communicate with their (potential) customers and deliver their services (Avolio, 2000). A key success factor for a successful company is an effective and efficient alignment of the way IT is supporting business strategies and processes. The necessity and desirability of aligning business needs and IT capabilities is examined in numerous articles (Pyburn, 1983; Reich & Benbasat, 1996; Chan et al., 1997; Luftman & Brier, 1999; Maes et al., 2000; Sabherwal & Chan, 2001) and its importance is well recognized (Cumps et al., 2006). The annual survey of top management concerns by the Society for Information Management (www.simnet.org) ranked ‘IT and Business alignment’ as the no. 1 concern in five of the last seven years (Society of Information Management, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). In the years that it did not make the top spot, alignment ranked as the no. 2 concern. The alignment between business needs and IT capabilities is therefore still a prominent area of concern.

After many years of research into business / IT alignment (BIA), Chan and Reich (2007) list over 150 studies, the prominent position of BIA as one of the top concerns, indicates that business and IT executives still face issues and questions that are not tackled by research (Chan & Reich, 2007; Silvius, 2007). One of these questions concerns the impact of culture on BIA. Several authors (Watson et al., 1997; Kaarst-Brown & Robey, 1999; Baker, 2004) suggest a relationship between the effectiveness of BIA and the culture within an organization. Other authors show that national cultures affect the way IT is used or perceived (Veiga, Floyd & Dechant, 2001; Livonen et al., 1998). This paper aims to explore the way national culture affects the maturity of BIA in organizations.

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