The Influence of Organizational Politics on Business-IT Alignment

The Influence of Organizational Politics on Business-IT Alignment

Ilkka Ritola (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden), Rokas Siugzda (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden) and Lazar Rusu (Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJITBAG.2016070103

Abstract

Business-IT alignment continues to remain a top management concern. Regardless of ample research, achieving and sustaining business-IT alignment remains challenging to organization's management. To this day, the influence of organizational politics remains unstudied in the light of business-IT alignment. By performing a case study in a large organization in Sweden, the authors present and discuss how organizational politics influences business-IT alignment from the viewpoint of practitioners. They find that organizational politics has a negative influence on communications, partnering, IT governance, IT scope, and business and IT skills of the Strategic Alignment Maturity model. Furthermore, the authors identified several root causes for organizational politics in the business-IT alignment context, not addressed by the commonly used business-IT alignment constructs. The findings of this research study are useful to business and IT practitioners for achieving and sustaining business-IT alignment in their organizations considering the influence of organizational politics.
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1. Introduction

Business-IT alignment (BITA) continues to be ranked as the top management concern in companies worldwide (Kappelman et al., 2016). This is not surprising considering the substantial amount of empirical evidence indicating that BITA has a positive influence on business performance (Chan et al., 1997; Gerow et al., 2014) leads to a more strategic utilization of IT (Chan et al., 2006) and supports the use of IT for achieving competitive advantage (Kearns & Lederer, 2004). Furthermore, Chan & Reich (2007) argue that organizations which successfully align their business and IT strategies will outperform those failing to do so. BITA has been studied since the 1970s (McLean & Soden, 1977), and there is still a need for researchers to extend the knowledge in this topic (Colton et al., 2015). According to Leonard & Seddon (2012) the reason for this is twofold: (1) the strategic benefits associated with BITA and (2) the fact that it is considered among the key management issues among the practitioners. Consequently, multiple models for analyzing BITA have been introduced in the literature. Suffice it to say, for most modern organizations it is not a question whether alignment is important or not, but rather how it is achieved and sustained (El-Mekawy et al., 2012). In spite of the large body of knowledge and widespread practitioner interest, attaining and sustaining BITA remains a complex and challenging undertaking for organizations in practice (Tarafdar & Qrunfleh, 2010). Therefore, it can be argued that greater focus on research should be put on understanding how BITA can be achieved in practice and the factors influencing BITA maturity. While a substantial amount of research has been conducted on identifying barriers to alignment (Luftman et al., 1999; El-Mekawy et al., 2015a; Alaceva & Rusu, 2015) and on successfully achieving and sustaining alignment (Chan, 2002), the influence of organizational politics (OP) on BITA is missing from the research literature. Additionally, Luftman, et al. (2015) states that a vast majority of current BITA models lack political considerations. OP has been discussed in the literature since 1960s (Kimura, 2013) and remains an area of intense interest for academics and management practitioners alike (Drory & Vigoda-Gadot, 2010). The impetus for the interest is clear. It can be argued that politics play a pervasive role in all organizations. Indeed, Ferris & Kacmar (1992, p. 1) argue that “politics in organizations is simply a fact of life”. This view is echoed by Randolph (1985) who states that politics in organizations cannot be avoided. A great deal of research suggests that OP has a negative effect on organizational factors such as employee performance levels, increased pressure and stress levels at work, as well as negative attitudes between employees of different statuses (Drory & Vigoda-Gadot, 2010). In addition, OP has shown to influence the effectiveness of strategic planning (Elbanna, 2016) and of strategic initiatives (Kreutzer et al., 2015). While these aforementioned studies have been conducted on areas related to BITA such as strategic planning and strategic initiatives, the literature is missing research regarding the influence of OP on BITA. Moreover, while the negative influence of OP on these related areas have been empirically validated, a more qualitative approach is required in order to understand the “how” and “why” OP has this negative influence on various management areas, including BITA. Subsequently, increasing the knowledge regarding how OP influences BITA can help organizations in better achieving and sustaining BITA. Therefore, it can be argued that it is likely that OP influences BITA as well. Both BITA and OP have been studied extensively (Chan & Reich, 2007; Drory & Vigoda-Gadot, 2010) but yet each area of literature evolved separately and remain separate today.

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