Leveraging CIO Power to Enhance the Relationship Between Social Alignment and IT-Business Strategic Alignment

Leveraging CIO Power to Enhance the Relationship Between Social Alignment and IT-Business Strategic Alignment

Jennifer E. Gerow (Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2018040102
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To give Information Technology (IT) a more central role in an organization and avoid disrupting the existing executive team power balance, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) should only leverage their power in certain situations. We propose CIOs can leverage their expert, prestige, and structural power attributes to influence the social–intellectual alignment relationship versus the social–operational alignment relationship in unique ways. Analyzing data collected from 140 CIOs, the results suggest IT knowledge strengthens the social-strategic alignment relationship, business knowledge and structural power weaken the social–intellectual alignment relationship, and prestige power has no impact on the social-strategic alignment relationship. Implications of these findings are discussed.
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1. Introduction

There is no doubt aligning business and IT strategies and processes is valuable (Gerow, Grover, Thatcher, & Roth, 2014) and continues to be IT management’s top concern (Kappelman et al., 2017). Despite this, researchers and practitioners still struggle to understand how to create and sustain IT-business strategic alignment (Kappelman et al., 2017; Preston & Karahanna, 2009) which will be referred to as strategic alignment throughout this paper and is defined as “the degree of fit and integration among business strategy, IT strategy, business infrastructure, and IT infrastructure” (Chan & Reich, 2007, p. 300). To better understand strategic alignment, researchers have considered multiple antecedents such as governance structure, IT investments, social alignment, and strategy (Gerow et al., 2014). Of these, social alignment is considered key to facilitating strategic alignment (Preston & Karahanna, 2009) where social alignment is defined as “the state in which business and IT executives within an organizational unit understand and are committed to the business and IT mission, objectives, and plans” (Reich & Benbasat, 2000 p. 82)1. While research shows a positive relationship between social and strategic alignment, it is still unclear how social alignment impacts different strategic alignment types (Gerow et al., 2014) or how social alignment can be facilitated given its many components (Ullah & Lai, 2013). We discuss these research opportunities and how this paper contributes to this literature stream in the following paragraphs.

Social alignment may impact different strategic alignment types in unique ways (Gerow et al., 2014). To explore these nuances, organizations must first identify whether they are pursuing the alignment of their IT and business strategies and/or their IT and business processes2. The alignment of business and IT strategies is referred to as intellectual alignment (Chan & Reich, 2007; Reich & Benbasat, 1996; 2000) and is defined as “the degree to which the mission, objectives, and plans contained in the business strategy are shared and supported by the IS strategy” (Chan, Sabherwal, & Thatcher, 2006, p. 27). The alignment of business and IT processes is referred to as operational alignment and is defined as “the link between organizational infrastructure and processes and I/S infrastructure and processes” (Henderson & Venkatraman, 1999, p. 476). While some studies have considered social alignment in a model with these different strategic alignment types (e.g. Fink & Neumann, 2009; Tiwana & Konsynski, 2010), we could not find any study that considered the individual impact of social alignment on both strategic alignment types simultaneously. While individual studies on intellectual and operational alignment may provide evidence for positive relationships with social alignment, it is also important to understand the relative strength of social alignment on the strategic alignment types since some strategic alignment types could be more strongly affected by social issues than others (Dulipovici & Robey, 2013; Gerow et al., 2014).

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