Measuring IS strategic alignment in small firms.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
There is mixed evidence regarding the possible benefits available to organisations from the implementation of information systems (IS). Despite general acceptance of the benefit of aligning IS strategy with organisation strategy to obtain the maximum benefit, few attempts have been made to define and quantify this relationship. Before it is possible to quantify the effect of alignment on performance it is first necessary to be able to measure alignment itself. In particular, the past models have largely neglected the specific considerations of smaller business organisations. This thesis assesses the past research into business strategy, information systems strategy and alignment. It is determined which of the prior models is most appropriate as the basis for provision of a measure of strategic alignment in small firms with the aim of providing a solid base for further research in actually quantifying the effect of strategic alignment on performance. The model selected from the assessment of past research involved a series of four instruments assessing business strategy, IS strategy, IS effectiveness and business performance. Churchill's (1979) recommended steps for the development and subsequent testing of construct measures were followed in adapting the chosen model and instruments to be used in small firms. The resulting instruments were tested via multiple cases, using firms from four different industries in order to provide a wider opportunity for interviewer assessment of the performance of the instruments. The quantitative results were consistently found to parallel the interviewers' qualitative assessments of the information systems alignment in each firm. Additionally, the instruments met the requirements for validity and reliability that were able to be tested with a case study approach. Overall therefore, the results of this thesis provide a significant step towards providing a method for the measurement of strategic alignment in small firms. Future development of these instruments will also provide opportunity for research into methods for determining the impact of strategic alignment on the performance of organisations.