From Theory to Practice of Business-IT Alignment Barriers, an Evaluation Framework and Relationships with Organisational Culture

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University

Abstract: Business-IT alignment (BITA) continues to be a top management concern. It generally refers to a preferred condition in which the relationship between business and IT is optimised to maximise the business value of IT. Early approaches in both research and practice have focused on the role of IT in supporting business strategies. Today, a more extended approach of BITA has been embraced that recognises soft factors that are related to people and culture issues at both tactical and operational levels of organisations. ‘Why alignment is important’ is not the crucial question today. In fact ‘how it can be achieved and matured’ is the real concern of business executives. There exists a number of theoretical models for conceptualising BITA, however, they have different focuses and contain different BITA components. Therefore, there is a need for a means of supporting practitioners for selecting an appropriate model.Furthermore, there is a need for a more practice-oriented research that target higher maturity of BITA by understanding the organisational context, including barriers that hinders BITA and the mutual relationships between organisational culture and BITA. Thus, the overall problem addressed in the thesis is the following: In spite of extensive literature on business-IT alignment, there is still limited maturity of business-IT alignment in practice due to the limited knowledge on barriers that hinder BITA achievement from practitioners’ perspective, on the means for supporting the selection of an appropriate model for assessing BITA, and on mutual relationships between BITA and organisational culture.Based on this research problem, five research objectives were developed. The first two objectives corresponded to barriers to achieving BITA and supporting the selection of BITA model respectively. The remaining three objectives corresponded to the two unidirectional influences between BITA and organisational culture (OC) and to the mutual relationships between them respectively. Different research methodologies and strategies were applied to achieve the research objectives, including qualitative and quantitative studies as well as design science.The results presented in the thesis, each corresponding to an objective, are the following: A list of barriers that practitioners can use as a basis for better achievement of BITA, a better focus on strategic vs. tactical barriers, and their relationships to BITA components.An evaluation framework that supports practitioners in selecting appropriate BITA models for assessing and modelling BITA.An extended version of the strategic alignment model (SAM) of Luftman (2000), which considers organisational culture.An analysis of the impact of BITA components on organisational culture profiles.A BITA-organisational culture integrated view that supports decision-makers in facilitating decisions regarding both BITA and organisational culture.The results of the research provide both theoretical and empirical contributions to the business-IT alignment research and practice.