CCE Theses and Dissertations

A Study of Chief Information Officer Effectiveness in Higher Education

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell


For almost as long as information technology (IT) has existed, there has been a communication and action gap between IT departments and their institutions. The gaps cause a variety of dysfunctional outcomes that include multimillion dollar failed projects, inefficient operations, and the inability of other departments to focus on their jobs. The consequential effects are well documented in the IT-leadership literature. Responsibility for resolving the negative effects rests with the senior IT-executive or chief information officer (CIO). CIOs come from any number of varying backgrounds and each may have very different attributes. In some institutions, the person is responsible for all technology initiatives and may have a direct link to the chief executive officer (CEO). In other organizations, he may be a peer of academic department leaders. The position the CIO holds within the organization may affect the organization's perception of IT. Furthermore, the organizational view of IT and the configuration of the IT department may have an impact on a CIO's effectiveness.

This qualitative and quantitative case study used CIOs in four- year or above higher education institutions in the United States as the case study group. Separate survey. Of CIOs and the institution management teams (IMTs) were used to determine how attributes, management team membership, organizational view of IT and a centralized or decentralized IT structure related to effectiveness. Results showed a correlation between CIO attributes and effectiveness in all of the CIO roles.

The effectiveness of the CIO was not affected by his membership on the IMT. In addition, the business partner role was the only CIO role affected by the decision to centralize the IT department. There was no correlation between the effectiveness of the CIO and institutional view of IT. Recommendations are made to CIOs and IMTs about the benefits of eliminating the communication and action gap. Also, necessary attributes and organizational configurations demonstrated important to ensure CIO, and therefore organizational, success are discussed.

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