The Impact of Information Systems Consultants on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: A Theory of the Firm Perspective
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This research aims to show the impact that consultants have on the creation of IS knowledge assets as well as the impact that they have on the development of IS competencies in SMEs. Exploratory case studies involving SMEs and consultants are used to investigate the impact consultants have on SMEs. IS knowledge and IS competencies are important themes that emerge from the exploratory stage of the study. This research further investigates the types of IS knowledge assets and IS competencies that consultants impact in SMEs by conducting further case studies with consultants and SMEs. Several propositions about the types of IS knowledge assets and IS competencies impacted by consultants are developed and tested using a longitudinal single-case study.
The results are analysed using resource-based theory and knowledge-based theory and reveals that consultants contribute to the development of experiential knowledge assets like know-how and experience, routine knowledge assets and systemic knowledge assets by influencing the knowledge creation processes of implementing SMEs. Consultants enhance and contribute to the development of the Management of IT competence which relates to the SME’s ability utilise IS. However, the results also show that consultants compensate for other IS competencies: strategy and vision; sourcing and alignment; and systems and infrastructure. These competencies relate to the SME’s ability to integrate IT with business processes, to source and alignment IT/IS and to engage in business and IS strategic thinking.
It is proposed that in addition to overcoming the knowledge barrier in SMEs, consultants are an essential part of the IS knowledge-creation process. Additionally, consultants compensate for IS competencies which are abilities; however, it is noted that if an on-going relationship develops between the consultants and SMEs then SMEs may, over time, develop IS competencies related to business and IS strategic thinking, management of IT and, sourcing and alignment.