Explorative Study on the Influence of National Cultures on Business/IT Alignment Maturity

Explorative Study on the Influence of National Cultures on Business/IT Alignment Maturity

A. J. Gilbert Silvius (Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands), Steven De Haes (University of Antwerp – Antwerp Management School, Belgium) and Wim Van Grembergen (University of Antwerp – Antwerp Management School, Belgium)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1779-7.ch007
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A key success factor for a successful company in a dynamic environment is effective and efficient information technology (IT) supporting business strategies and processes. Organizations that successfully align their business strategy and their IT strategy outperform their non-aligned peers (Chan et al., 1997). In recent surveys IT executives consistently name IT to Business alignment their top-concern. The alignment between business needs and IT capabilities is therefore still a prominent area of concern. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the alignment challenge by exploring the impact of (national) cultures on the maturity of business / IT alignment (BIA).The paper relies on Hofstede’s framework of cultural dimensions (Hofstede, 1980) to understand the concept of national culture. After a brief introduction on BIA and Luftman’s framework for measuring BIA maturity (Luftman, 2000), the authors analyze the influence of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions on the variables of BIA maturity. This conceptual exercise is than tested in a small-scale empirical exploration by comparing BIA maturity scores of Belgium and Dutch financial institutions. The results support a potential effect of national cultures on BIA maturity, especially in ‘governance maturity’ and ‘skills maturity’, but not all expected results are confirmed.
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The central question in this paper, how does national culture influence the alignment of business and IT in organizations, resolves from a research program aimed at exploring and understanding the differences of BIA in theory and in practice. With this knowledge the theory on BIA can be further developed.

Step one of the research was a literature review on the topic. The literature review focused on the following questions.

  • How is BIA defined and interpreted?

  • Which theories are developed on BIA?

  • What was the development path of BIA?

This literature is not reported in his paper, but some relevant parts are included in the paragraph defining BIA.

The second step in the program was a number of focused group discussions in order to explore the practical side of BIA. The discussions were aimed at exploring the following questions.

  • Which issues are faced in aligning IT with business requirements in practice?

  • Which actions are taken to align IT with business requirements?

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