Using IOS in a Collaborative Way: A Conceptual Model

Using IOS in a Collaborative Way: A Conceptual Model

Hamid Nach (UQAR, Lévis, Canada) and Marie-Claude Boudreau (University of Georgia, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/IJeC.2018010101

Abstract

Interorganizational systems (IOS) are information and communication technology-based systems that transcend organizational boundaries. However, their use does not always lead to successful interorganizational collaboration, particularly in settings where significant changes in business processes are needed. The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry offers such a setting, in particular as its stakeholders are encouraged to use of a novel type of interorganizational system known as building information modeling (Building Information Modelling), which can only be successfully used if parties collaborate. This research seeks to uncover what leads to interorganizational collaboration in this particular context. Drawing on rich data from interviews with BIM users involved in interorganizational projects, the authors propose a conceptual model of how interorganizational collaboration unfolds. The authors highlight the central role played by interorganizational infrastructure, collective identity, and IT affordances, on interorganizational collaboration.
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Introduction

Interorganizational systems (IOS) are information and communication technology-based systems that transcend organizational boundaries (Kumar and van Dissel, 1996). Their transboundary nature often requires a high level of collaboration and commitment toward a shared goal. However, effective and productive interorganizational collaboration can be problematic (Hogg et al., 2012), particularly when it involves significant changes in business processes or affects the accepted business model. Such challenges may induce organizations to limit their involvement in a common project, or prioritize their own goals rather than the overarching ones.

In the information systems (IS) literature, researchers focusing on interorganizational systems have developed numerous theoretical arguments to explain the effectiveness of interorganizational collaboration. Such accounts include conflict (Kumar and van Dissel, 1996), emotion (Hekkala and Newman, 2011), trust (Zolin et al., 2004), culture (Yu-Ting Caisy and Nguyen, 2008), structure (Thomas and Bostrom, 2010), control (Gallivan and Depledge, 2003), roles (Hong, 2002) and decision making (Premkumar and Ramamurthy, 1995). However, only a few studies have adopted an identity perspective in the examination of collaboration in IT-based distributed projects (e.g. Gal et al., 2014; Levina and Vaast, 2005). These few studies have demonstrated the mutual shaping relationship between identity and IT use in interorganizational context; they have fell short, however, from explaining the extent of interorganizational collaboration in settings where multiple organizations are engaged in a common task and share (at least to some degree) a sociotechnical infrastructure (Gal et al., 2014).

The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry offers such a setting. Indeed, stakeholders involved in the AEC industry (e.g., builders, architects, contractors, project managers, etc.) are increasingly required to use a novel type of interorganizational systems known as Building Information Modeling (BIM), which can only be successfully used if parties collaborate. BIM is a set of interrelated technologies and processes that constitute an approach to digital project information and data management throughout a building’s life cycle (Akbarnezhad et al., 2014). It is particularly challenging for organizations to be successful in their use of BIM because, on the one hand, it involves multidisciplinary teams with specialists in various areas; on the other hand, it also changes the nature of work relationships between project participants and requires tight collaboration from the early design until the project handover (Sebastian, 2011). The extent of interorganizational collaboration, indeed, is central to the success of BIM. Given the above, the research question at the heart of our work asks: In the context of interorganizational system usage, what leads to interorganizational collaboration?

Drawing on rich data from interviews with AEC professionals, we propose a conceptual model of how interorganizational collaboration unfolds. The use of the grounded theory method was particularly valuable as it allowed us to identify the central role played by interorganizational infrastructure, along with collective identity and information technology affordances (Leonardi, 2011), affect interorganizational collaboration. Overall, this study adds to the body of knowledge on interorganizational collaboration by proposing a model elucidating what comes into play for this collaboration to happen.

This paper is structured as follows. In the next section, we present relevant literatures on interorganizational systems, collective identity, and IT affordances. We then describe our research approach and share our results, which we frame in a conceptual model. We later discuss this model, highlight this work’s contribution, and discuss limitations and potential future research.

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