IT Effectiveness Efforts as Predictors of Organizational Outcomes: a Normative Model for Assessing IT Quality.

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Business Administration

  • Authors:
  • Michael Curry


Information technology (IT) is a key enabler of modern business practices, yet reliably effective IT systems remain a significant challenge for many organizations. The consequences when systems fail to behave as expected becomes ever-more problematic as IT dependence grows. Therefore, methods for assessing IT effectiveness and generating actionable recommendations for improvement are key drivers of success. For this reason, large organizations often adopt IT best practice frameworks such as COBIT, ITIL or ISO/IEC standards which can offer greater assurances of IT effectiveness. However smaller organizations are rarely able to adopt these frameworks due, in part, to resource constraints, and a preference to eschew authoritative practices in favour of informal guides to action. Consequently, a significant research gap is the lack of IT effectiveness approaches for organizations unable or unwilling to adopt formal IT best practice frameworks.This thesis presents an alternative norms-based approach to IT effectiveness which some organizations might find more suitable. Norms are informal beliefs (e.g. 'using a complex password helps safeguard data') which motivate behaviours and can often be expressed using non-technical language. We review the literature to formulate a predictive model connecting norms to IT quality. Employing a scientific methodology defensible on philosophical grounds and accepted research practices, we distil a set of IT effectiveness norms from the COBIT 4.1 IT governance framework and adapt theories of motivation to justify our assertion that IT effectiveness norms can motivate actions. Our work is signficant in its formulation of an alternative approach for assessing IT operations and improving organizational IT outcomes. Our survey instrument -validated in four studies, which include a non-profit and government organization, multiple small businesses, a large pharmaceutical company and a university -is a light-weight and reliable assessment tool. Our predictive model is able to explain 26% of observed variance, and can offer actionable and non-technical insights which can improve organizational outcomes. A norms-based approach may bring many of the same IT effectiveness benefits offered by formal IT best practices into organizations, such as small businesses, which lack the resources for their implementation. This approach may also help bridge important communication gaps between IT professionals and others in the organization by providing a different, less technical perspective for framing, assessing, diagnosing, and communicating about IT processes.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2014