The challenge of managing the relationship between a firm's business and IT in order to derive business value from IT is an important topic on researchers' and practitioners' agendas. The focus of most related research and management actions has been on the top management or project management levels. However, conflicts frequently arise within the line organization when applications are extended, enhanced, maintained, or otherwise changed operationally outside software development projects. This study focuses on the impact of relationships at the application-change level and strives to identify and explain favorable social structures for effective business/IT dialog at the operational level. We collected data in seven comprehensive case studies, including 88 interviews and corresponding surveys, and applied social network analysis to show that three social structures at the implementation level influence the degree to which IT applications are maintained and enhanced in line with business requirements: (1) interface actors connecting business and IT, (2) the relationships between interface actors and the corresponding unit, and (3) the relationships between interface actors and other employees in their unit. In three cases, less favorable structures are revealed that correspond to low application change effectiveness and software applications that do not meet business requirements. The other cases benefit from favorable social structures and thus enhance fulfillment of business requirements and result in higher IT business value. This paper contributes to IS research by helping to explain why companies may not provide favorable IT services despite favorable relationships at the top management level and successful application development projects.
There is ample evidence of deviations between the actual and planned interaction structures between a firm's IT department and business units. Such deviations can hinder senior managers from governing their IT organizations effectively because they do not know how
work really gets done. This paper develops an explanation for why actual structures differ from planned structures. Understanding this phenomenon is indispensable for managers to govern the real organization, to uphold compliance with important standards (e.g., ITIL, COBIT), to decide whether the formal or the actual organization is more effective, and, finally, to identify management actions that support the optimal structure. To develop this understanding, we analyze the interaction structures at the interface between firms' business units and IT units in four rich cases, using data from 56 interviews and 47 questionnaires, and applying qualitative methods and social network analysis, which give us deep insights into planned and actual interaction among employees. We test two different
explanations for deviations of actual from planned interaction structures and find that boundary-spanning theory provides the dominant explanation for such deviations: Inclined to span the business/IT boundary most effectively, the actors involved deviate from planned
structures especially when other structures offer better boundary-spanning potential, which is influenced primarily by cross-domain knowledge. In addition, relationships also play an important role. On the positive side, relationships provide opportunities for such deviations, while on the negative side, a conflict-laden relationship might hinder deviations even if they were advantageous.