Enabling agility in existing information systems: a capability structure for the IT function
AuthorHOBBS, GEORGE ARTHUR
AffiliationScience, Department of Information Systems
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsHobbs, G. A. (2010). Enabling agility in existing information systems: a capability structure for the IT function. PhD thesis, Science, Department of Information Systems, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2010 Dr. George Arthur Hobbs
This thesis identifies how the IT function can create agility in existing information systems. Agility is the capability to quickly sense and respond to environmental perturbations. This thesis contrasts the agility perspective from a widely used industry framework with research perspectives on agility in the IS literature. Beer’s Viable System Model is a useful meta-level theory to house agility elements from IS research literature and applies cybernetic principles to identify the capabilities required of the IT function. Indeed, a survey of 70 organizations confirms that the meta-level theory better correlates with reported agility measures than existing practice measures do on their own. There were three stages to the research. First, was conceptually applying the Viable System Model to the concept of agility from IS research literature. The cybernetic model proposed an explanative theory for agility in information systems and prescribed capabilities for the IT function. The second research stage was a qualitative study with an IT consultancy. Managers and consultants participated in applicability checking the theoretical development to the agility topic. The level of analysis was the client base of an IT consultancy, which consists of approximately 250 Australian organizations. A research deliverable was a joint white paper between the University of Melbourne and the IT consultancy. The final stage was two quantitative surveys for theory testing. The first survey mailed a Likert-type questionnaire to business and IT managers amongst the IT consultancy’s clients. The second survey invited international members of professional interest groups to complete a web-based questionnaire. The responses from the surveys were analyzed using partial-least-squares modeling and linear regression. The data analysis correlated process maturity of the IT function and the likelihood of agility in existing information systems. The thesis claims to generalize the survey findings to other large organizations in OECD countries. The thesis offers an agility-capability model for the IT function, which extends IS research with a theory that explains and predicts agility in existing information systems. A further contribution is to improve IT industry ‘best practice’ frameworks by prescribing capabilities to develop.
Keywordsagility; Information Systems; IT function
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