CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Gurvirender P. Tejay

Committee Member

Leon A Kappelman

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Abstract

There is a high rate of information system implementation failures attributed to the lack of alignment between business and information technology strategy. Although enterprise architecture (EA) is a means to correct alignment problems and executives highly rate the importance of EA, it is still not used in most organizations today. Current literature only gave anecdotal reasons why EA was not more widely adopted. This study explored the problem of EA underutilization by understanding how organizational executives value EA.

This research used the grounded theory methodology to obtain the EA perspectives of organizational executives responsible for EA. Seventeen executives were selected using theoretical sampling and interviewed using a semi-structured interview approach. The interview data was recorded and coded, and interviewing continued until theoretical saturation was reached.

The executives identified four distinct meanings of EA, i.e., business and IT alignment, a holistic representation of the enterprise, a planned vision of the future, and a process, methodology, or framework enhancing enterprise decision making. In addition, they identified 16 unique benefits that EA provided. Depending on the meaning of EA, it was possible to predict what benefits they expected. For example, if the meaning of EA was a holistic representation of the enterprise, then the benefits of increase operational effectiveness, planning, product selection, and speak a common language were expected. However, regardless of which of the four meanings of EA was selected, executives expected EA to facilitate the alignment of business and IT, the decision making process, and the simplification of system and architecture management. Based on the findings, an analytic story and a theoretical model were produced. The model depicted the influencers on what meaning an executive chose and, based on the meaning, the expected benefits of EA.

The understanding of executives' perceptions of EA is critical because they are the most influential leaders within organizations. Without their understanding, it becomes less likely that EA initiatives would meet organizational expectations and have favorable outcomes. Furthermore, it is hoped that this study shapes future EA initiatives so that they become more aligned with the views of the executives who are responsible for them.

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