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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Strategic IT Investment Decisions

Strategic IT Investment Decisions
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Author(s): Tzu-Chuan Chou (University of Bath, UK), Robert G. Dyson (University of Bath, UK) and Philip L. Powell (University of Bath, UK)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 5
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch572


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As many as half the decisions taken in organizations result in failure (Nutt, 1999). As information technology (IT) assumes a greater prominence in firms’ strategic portfolios, managers need to pay more attention to managing the technology. However, while IT can have a significant impact on organizational performance, it can also be a major inhibitor of change and can be a resource-hungry investment that often disappoints. Organizations can best influence the success of IT projects at the decision stage by rejecting poor ones and accepting beneficial ones. This may enable better implementation, as Nutt (1999) suggests most decision failures are due to implementation failure that tends to be under managers’ control. However, little is known about IT decision processes. Research demonstrates the importance of managing strategic IT investment decisions (SITIDs) effectively. SITIDs form part of the wider range of corporate strategic investment decisions (SIDs) that cover all aspects in which the organization might wish to invest. Strategic investment decisions will have different degrees of IT intensity that may impact outcome. IT investment intensity is the degree to which IT is present in an investment decision. That is, some decisions will be wholly about IT investments while others will have little or no IT—most, though, will be blended programs of IT and non-IT elements. Here, IT investment intensity is defined as the ratio of IT spending to total investment. The higher the IT investment intensity, the more important IT is to the whole investment. For example, Chou, Dyson, and Powell (1997) find IT investment intensity to be negatively associated with SID effectiveness. The concept of IT intensity is similar to, but also somewhat different from, the concept of information intensity. Information intensity is the degree to which information is present in the product or service (Porter & Millar, 1985). Management may use different processes in order to make different types of decisions (Dean & Sharfman, 1996). The link between decision process and outcome is so intimate that “the process is itself an outcome” (Mohr, 1982, p. 34). This may imply that the link between IT investment intensity and SID effectiveness is not direct but that the impact of IT investment intensity may be through the decision process. If different IT intensity in projects leads to different decision processes, leading to different outcomes, then it is important to know what factors act in this, in evaluating and managing SITIDs. This chapter presents an integrative framework for exploring the IT investment intensity-SID effectiveness relationship.

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