Factors Affecting Business and Information Technology Alignment at the Lower Levels of a Public Organisation

Factors Affecting Business and Information Technology Alignment at the Lower Levels of a Public Organisation

Sid Vatharkar (Vodafone UK, Birmingham, UK), Ping Gao (The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK) and Vladislav Fomin (Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania & Turiba University, Riga, Latvia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHISI.2018070103

Abstract

This article describes how the alignment of business and information technology (IT) strategies impact organisational performance. The alignment involves an entire organisation. However, much of the research has focused on the factors affecting alignment at the senior executive level, and there appears to be less attention placed upon factors that affect the lower operational levels. This article attempts to address this gap in the literature through a case study of a healthcare organisation. Semi-structured interviews with ten employees at an operational level were qualitatively analysed to elucidate factors. Organisational culture, management expectations, communication, and the provision and recognition of skills were identified as main factors that may affect the alignment of business and IT strategies at the lower levels
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1. Introduction

With an increasing dependency of organisational activity on information systems (IS) based on innovation of information technology (IT), the alignment of business and IT strategies in organisations becomes a key concern amongst the organisational management, and attracts the attention of academics (Luftman & Ben-Zvi, 2011). Reich & Benbasat (2000) define alignment as “the degree to which the IT mission, objectives, plans and people support are supported by the business mission, objectives plans and people.” The majority of the literature focuses on alignment factors at the senior and executive management level. We lack knowledge on alignment in organisations at an operational level or front line. Lower level employees often carry out the strategy in an operational capacity (Gallo, 2010). In the words of Chan & Reich (2007, p. 301), “…formal strategies are often only implemented at the upper levels of the organisations, yet strategy is carried out on the front line.” There is a call for more studies in this area (Walentowitz, Beimborn, Schroiff, & Weitzel, 2011). This research attempts to fill in this gap. Specifically, it will identify factors affecting alignment at the lower levels of organisations.

This paper offers a case study based on semi-structured interviews. Section 2 reviews the literature in the field of business and IT strategic alignment, and its relevance to organisations. Section 3 introduces the research methodology. Section 4 presents the case study. Section 5 discusses the findings, and Section 6 concludes this paper.

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