Gaining competitive advantage through information technology. A resource-based approach to the creation and employment of strategic IT resources

University dissertation from Lund Business Press, Institute of Economic Research, P.O. Box 7080, SE-220 07 LUND, Sweden

Abstract: Information technology is a central phenomenon in modern society. It is widely used in a variety of settings and commercial firms use it for a variety of purposes. It could be an Internet application, a manufacturing system, office support software, electronic data interchange or something else, applied in order to create economic benefits through improvements of operative work tasks and business activities. But how do firms manage the IT investment? This thesis aims at increasing our understanding of how firms and managers act to create and employ strategic information technology resources, in order for the resources to become sources of competitive advantage. It is concerned in particular with so-called enterprise resource planning systems. Based on the resource-based view of strategic management, the thesis presents and analyses a particular IT project in a manufacturing company. The proposed framework offers an overview of the resource management process and its different phases, as well as a description of potential problems and solutions in conjunction with such processes. There are two overarching phases; the resource phase (including identification, development and protection of the resource) and the employment phase (including distribution and usage of the resource). Apart from a wide set of proposed problems and solutions associated with the different phases, three key properties of the process are addressed: Its cognitive component, the irreversibility of such projects in terms of finance, finance, cognition and culture, and the role of top management.

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