Framing Information Technology Governance in the Public Sector: Opportunities and Challenges

Framing Information Technology Governance in the Public Sector: Opportunities and Challenges

Khalifa Al-Farsi (Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, UK) and Ramzi EL Haddadeh (College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJEGR.2015100105
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Information technology governance is considered one of the innovative practices that can provide support for decision-makers. Interestingly, it has become increasingly a de facto for organizations in seeking to optimise their performance. In principle, information technology governance has emerged to support organizations in the integration of information technology (IT) infrastructures and the delivery of high-quality services. On the other hand, decision-making processes in public sector organisations can be multi-faceted and complex, and decision makers play an important role in implementing technology in the public sector. The aim of this paper is to shed some light on current opportunities and challenges that IT governance is experiencing in the context of public sector services. In this respect, this paper examines the factors influencing the decision-making process to fully appreciate IT governance. Furthermore, this study focuses on combining institutional and individual perspectives to explain how individuals can take decisions in response to institutional influences.
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1. Background: Understanding Corporate And It Governance

According to Van Grembergen and De Haes (2009), information technology governance (ITG) is part of corporate governance, and it is recognised as one of the innovative practices guiding decision-makers. ITG is becoming increasingly important for organisations as they seek to achieve best value performance. However, ITG remains a relatively new and undeveloped field (ref). Thus, there is a need to develop further work and understanding in both the theoretical and practical ITG research streams (Ko & Fink, 2010; Wilkin & Chenhall, 2010). Due to increasing regulatory pressures, the alignment of information technology (IT) and the growth of interface decisions in business, ITG is becoming increasingly important to both academia and practice (Buchwald et al., 2014). Figure 1 depicts the relationship between ITG and corporate governance.

Figure 1.

Framework linking corporate and IT governance (adopted from Weill & Ross, 2004)


Weill and Ross (2004) support this trail of evidence by developing a framework that links corporate governance with IT governance. The framework, as illustrated in Figure 1, verifies that there can be some connection between corporate governance and associated key assets resulting towards ITG. The top part of the framework depicts the relationships of the board, which appoints the senior executive team. Evidently, the responsibility of the senior executive team is to formulate strategy and desirable organisational behaviours. Weill and Ross (2004) explained that strategy, for a given organisation, can be seen as a set of choices. Hence, organisational culture and associated beliefs, value and mission statements, business principles, rituals and structures can be part of these defined choices (i.e. desirable behaviours), and can feed into defining the organisation strategies. Nonetheless, organisations need to acknowledge their differences in appreciating their own desirable behaviours in order to maintain an effective governance.

Furthermore, Figure 1 shows that, under “strategy and desirable behaviours”, there are six key assets. These include human, financial, physical, relationships, information and technology, and intellectual property assets. These key assets can be utilised as and governed through well-defined mechanisms. Therefore, by establishing joint governance mechanisms for organisational assets not only increases integration, but also can lead them to be more effective and valuable (Weill & Ross, 2004). Hence, this can demonstrate that ITG can be part of overall enterprise governance. Likewise, good ITG aligns the IT department with organisational goals and should help to deliver intended results.


2. Effectiveness Of Information Technology Governance

The effectiveness of ITG is a top priority in business; thus, additional studies exploring ITG challenges, implementation, effects of decision-makers in development, organisational structures and decision-making rights (Nfuka & Rusu, 2010) are warranted. Effective governance, in the context of public sector, is encouraged to promote better decision-making to help in strengthening accountability especially from resource management perspective. Such accountability is characterised by the effective supervision of a strong audit, which creates significant pressure to improve organisations performance and tackle corruption. Therefore, an effective ITG can help in improving administration, leading to a more effective implementation of process and procedures, which can be utilised to provide better service delivery resulting in improving individuals’ lives (CIPFA & IFAC, 2013).

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