Alignment as a process of enabling organizational adaptation: Extending the theory of alignment as guided adaptation
This dissertation seeks to generalize and extend the theory of alignment as guided adaptation (TAGA) (Ward & Vessey Working Paper). TAGA is a descriptive theory that views alignment from a multilevel, process-oriented prospective. It is based upon the premise that in the short run each alignment factor adapts independently of the others in the alignment system. In the long run, however, the alignment factors are an interdependent system. TAGA was developed based on a small firm that had a nonstrategic view of IS. This dissertation therefore seeks to generalize the theory to firms that have a formal IS strategy and planning process and are large in size. The dissertation also extends the theory by examining the role that changes external to the alignment factors play in the alignment factor adaptation process.
Three case studies were conducted using semi-structured interviews with 31 high-level business and IS managers as data sources. The data was coded into change episodes demarcated by changes in business strategy (intent and initiatives) and was analyzed using alternative templates, visual mapping, and temporal bracketing strategies (Langley 1999; Ward & Vessey Working Paper).
The results indicate that TAGA generalizes to large firms and to firms with a formal IS strategy and planning process. Within these additional contexts, TAGA was able to explain the patterns of change in the alignment episodes while the traditional view of alignment as synchronization could not. The results also indicate that changes in the outer environment such as the level at which the changed occurred in the factor hierarchy, the magnitude of the change initiating adaptation, and the pace at which change occurred influenced the need for change in the internal alignment factors.
This research has implications for both academic and practitioner communities. The research shows that TAGA is applicable to firms that have a formal IS strategy and planning process; and that factors such as the level, magnitude, and pace of changes impacts the adaptation process. From a practitioner perspective, this research provides insight into managing the alignment process by redefining how to view alignment.
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0984: Computer science