Understanding the Implementation of IT Governance Arrangements and IT Infrastructure Using Actor Network Theory

Understanding the Implementation of IT Governance Arrangements and IT Infrastructure Using Actor Network Theory

Hafizah Mohamad Hsbollah (Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz School of Accountancy, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia), Alan Simon (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia) and Nick Letch (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJANTTI.2016040104


The implementation of IT governance (ITG) arrangements and its relationship to IT infrastructure has not received much attention in either the ITG or the information systems (IS) literature. Based on the premise that the foundation on which ITG is implemented lies in the interaction between ITG arrangements of structures, processes and relational mechanisms and IT infrastructure, the authors present a discussion of how actor network theory (ANT) can be used as an overarching theoretical framework of explanation. The authors propose a model of ITG implementation and discuss how ANT, in particular the local/global network approach, can be applied to understand the relationship that exists between ITG arrangements and IT infrastructure.
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As IT becomes increasingly critical to organisations, there is intense pressure to ensure that appropriate technologies are chosen for investment in it and that safeguards to minimise associated risks are implemented. However, individual organisations differ significantly in the approaches that they adopt in relation to ITG. While there are arguments that ITG requires a more holistic approach in order to acknowledge its dynamic and complex nature (Peterson, 2004a; Van Grembergen, De Haes, & Guldentops, 2004) the complexity and dynamism of ITG implementation are often taken for granted. The ITG and IS literature by and large acknowledges that each organisation has its own ITG arrangements of structures, processes and relational mechanisms, but that these arrangements vary across organisations. This variation is seen as resulting from unique factors in ITG implementation, such as different organisational types (e.g., for-profit or not-for-profit), alternative technology deployment (i.e., IT infrastructure, such as ERP), each organisation’s historical background and business culture, as well as the need to respond to different environmental exigencies (Brown & Grant, 2005; Lunardi, Becker, Maçada, & Dolci, 2013; Sambamurthy & Zmud, 1999). Due to the above contingencies, a single optimal framework for ITG does not exist (Bowen, Cheung, & Rohde, 2007; De Haes & Grembergen, 2008; Lunardi et al., 2013; McElheran, 2012; Pereira & Da Silva, 2012a, 2012b). For these reasons, researchers have struggled to unravel the dynamism of ITG implementation in an organisation, particularly in regards to an overarching theoretical rubric. In this paper, ITG arrangements refers to the ITG structures, processes and relational mechanisms.

The premise in this paper is that each organisation is unique in its approach to implementing ITG. For this reason, researchers have struggled to understand the state of how ITG emerges and the underlying nature of the foundation on which its lies. Hence, the authors posit that ITG implementation is an outcome of interaction between ITG structures, processes, relational mechanisms and IT infrastructure. Previous research treated IT infrastructure as separate from the rest of the ITG arrangements hence, overlooking the overall way in which accountability and authority for a decision is related to IT infrastructure design, deployment and management. The interactive perspective; on the other hand, is crucial because of the interplay between governance arrangements and IT infrastructure as the technologies, which lend support to the business operations, are continuously emerging. This interdependency is regarded as the most important factor that needs to be considered when trying to understand the conditions under which strategic alignment of interests generates a stable and successful ITG implementation. The authors posit that the implementation of the ITG should be addressed in a new holism, which looks at how both ITG arrangements and IT infrastructure interact with each other in a unitary domain. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to explore the implementation of ITG in an organisation, specifically in terms of the interplay between the organisational and technological context of ITG implementation. For this reason, this paper presents an alternative overarching conceptual framework which can be used to describe and analyse an organisation’s ITG implementation over time.

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