Frameworks and Issues for a Shared Service Approach to Technology in Higher Education

Frameworks and Issues for a Shared Service Approach to Technology in Higher Education

Judith Lewis (Texas A&M University, USA) and Yakut Gazi (Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8170-5.ch014


In this chapter, the authors present the multiple frameworks and issues attendant to the shared service approach of leveraging information technology in higher education. The shared services model has been implemented in the business sector for many years, and government and higher education have more recently looked to that model in response to leaner budgets and more intense scrutiny of expenditures. The authors review current research on shared service design and discuss the shared service paradigm utilizing the frameworks of organizational structure and knowledge capital, change management, disruptive innovation theory, competitive advantage, leadership, and governance in a shared service context. Factors for successful shared service implementations are discussed and future directions are proposed.
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Shared services can take several forms. In general, most definitions refer to the shared service model as a consolidation of services or functions across multiple organizations or units (Massey, 2010; Shah, 1998; Wang & Wang, 2007). Bergeron defined shared services as:

Shared services is a collaborative strategy in which a subset of existing business functions are concentrated into a new, semi-autonomous business unit that has a management structure designed to promote efficiency, value generation, cost savings, and improved service for the internal customers of the parent corporation, like a business competing in the market. (p. 3)

Businesses decentralized their operations twenty to thirty years ago in an effort to provide greater autonomy to the business units; however, this approach led to duplication of costs for management, infrastructure, and support (Shah). The cost of leveraging technology to make business processes more efficient encouraged centralizing functions and services to share the cost of the improved processing (Shah; Wang & Wang). Due to the increasing number of organizations engaged in shared services, common themes and best practices are emerging. One major realization is that it is not just IT that is changed to implement shared services. The implementation of shared services often leads to organizational changes (Wang & Wang).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cost Disease: A term coined by William Baumol and William Bowen based on their research in the 1960’s. It is used to refer to certain sectors of the economy, such as health care and education, which are very labor intensive and therefore show slow increases in productivity.

Structural Holes: A term coined by Ronald Burt to describe organizational communication patterns. Within group communication, which occurs frequently, he described as clusters, and communication between groups, which was found to occur less frequently, results in gaps or “structural holes” in an organization’s social fabric.

CDO: An acronym for Chief Digital Officer. A leadership position emerging to manage the architecture and organizational strategy concerning governance and analysis of institutional data assets.

CIO: An acronym for Chief Information Officer. A term that applies to a senior executive responsible for enterprise technology and systems.

Shared Service: A consolidation of services or functions across multiple organizations or units.

ICT: An acronym for Information and Communications Technology, which is an extension of IT to include communication technologies.

IT: An acronym for Information Technology, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as the development and maintenance of hardware and software systems and networks to facilitate the management and distribution of data.

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