CCE Theses and Dissertations

A Study of the Processes by Which Enterprise Architecture Decisions are Made

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Easwar Nyshadham

Committee Member

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen


This dissertation presents the findings of a descriptive study in enterprise architecture decision-making processes. Decisions regarding enterprise systems architecture are among the most complex decisions in the IS domain. Enterprise architecture evaluations and recommendations such as choice of an enterprise system and buy-versus-build applications are strategic decisions in the sense that they influence and constrain corporate decisions. Formal and informal methodologies are discussed in this dissertation regarding how enterprise architecture decisions ought to be made in an abstract, ideal situation (i.e., normatively) and in describing best practices (i.e., prescriptively). How enterprise architecture decisions are made in practice, however, has not been rigorously studied (i.e., descriptively). The first purpose of this research is to examine the processes by which enterprise architects make decisions in practice. Drawing on concepts from complex decision-making (e.g., heuristics, scripts, schema, etc.) and sociology (e.g., mimetic isomorphism), the aim of this paper is to understand architectural decision-making in practice from the descriptive view. A second purpose of this research is to provide at least the beginnings of a new theory for enterprise architecture decision-making processes. Using a grounded theory approach, the study uses systematically collected field data to clarify and refine concepts of architecture decision processes and how organizational issues influence them. This descriptive and empirical study was used to propose a new theory for conceptualizing the organizational environmental issues on enterprise architecture. The paper thus has important implications for research and practice.

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