Politics, Leadership, and Information Technology

Politics, Leadership, and Information Technology

Bruce Rocheleau (Northern Illinois University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 39
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-807-9.ch006


The underlying premise of this chapter is that information is power and consequentlyinformation management is inherently political. Information asymmetries give an advan-tage of one actor over others (Bellamy, 2000). Maintaining control over information canallow an individuals, departments, or organizations to control how successful theyappear to others and thus may protect autonomy, job security, and funding. Therefore,in order to provide effective leadership for IT, the generalist and head IT manager willneed to actively engage themselves in both internal and external politics.An excellent case illustrating the importance of political issues in managing IT occurredin California. The California Department of Information Technology (DOIT) was elimi-nated in June of 2002 (Peterson, 2002). The Department had been created in 1995 in orderto solve the problem of several disastrous contracts in the IT area including a DMVproject that cost over $50 million but never functioned as planned (Peterson, 2002).Peterson (2002) cites accounts from observers to support the argument that a majorreason for the failure was due to the other major agencies that viewed the new departmentas a threat to their power and lobbied to reduce the authority of the agency in thelegislation creating it. In particular, the opponents lobbied to deny the new DOIT controlover operations in the legislation creating DOIT. Those with interests that were opposedto the new DOIT included existing departments that had major authority in the IT fieldand/or those with large data centers. The opposition was successful so that thelegislation limited DOIT’s role mainly to authority over the budget.

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