IT governance structures and their effectiveness in Australian universities
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This thesis advances the understanding of information technology (IT) governance research by considering the question “How do user stakeholders influence the planning and implementation of IT governance?” IT has become pervasive with organisations increasingly dependent on their information systems to support day to day operations and the achievement of strategic objectives (Bart & Turel, 2010; Parent & Reich, 2009; De Haes & Van Grembergen, 2009). As a result, organisations commit considerable resources into IT assets to meet the needs of their employees and other stakeholders (Nolan & McFarlan, 2005). Although the importance of IT governance to business has increased there has been little research into the influences that help determine the planning and implementation of the mechanisms that shape the IT governance process. In addition, there is a need to develop a better insight into stakeholder relationships to analyse strategic change in organisations (Myllykangas, Kujala, & Lehtimäki, 2010).This thesis addresses these gaps in the IT governance literature by providing a deeper understanding of the relationship between the planning and implementation of IT governance, the mechanisms of IT governance, and user stakeholders, from a stakeholder theory perspective. A mixed methods approach using a quantitative survey and a qualitative case study is employed. The research proposes a conceptual model developed from the literature to represent the influence user stakeholders have on the IT governance planning and implementation process. A positivist paradigm is used to explore the research topic and to confirm and subsequently validate the research model. Stakeholder theory is used to help explain the process represented in the model and to answer the research questions developed from the gaps identified in the literature.The key findings of this research are: (i) users have the potential to add value to the IT governance planning and implementation process; (ii) user support and acceptance is an important contributor to IT governance; and (iii) the influence of user stakeholders should be taken into consideration in IT governance planning and implementation. Universities participating in the study were found to share a common IT related history that evolved over time and was unplanned on a university level. Issues of lack of alignment of IT with business strategies, unmanaged IT related risk, and inefficient use of IT resources had led to comprehensive reviews of the IT function and the subsequent implementation of IT governance. It was found that user stakeholders at the faculty level did influence the planning and implementation of IT governance and the benefits of their involvement are recognized and valued by the IT governance decision makers. In contrast the research found at the individual level user stakeholders wanted to be involved in the IT decision making but felt they had no influence and would have little impact on the decisions that affected them.The application of stakeholder theory to help explain the findings provides a valuable insight into the influence of user stakeholders on the planning and implementation of IT governance. A paradox was found in that although user stakeholders were accepted as legitimate, they were not always involved in decisions that impacted on them. The normative and descriptive contradiction, as described by Sonpar, Pazzaglia, & Kornijenko (2010), was also identified in the IT governance planning and implementation process. The normative and descriptive contradiction was found in that those user stakeholders who received the most attention where not always the ones identified by the IT governance decision makers as those who should have the most influence.The research found the research orientation of the university and the resources available had a direct impact on the degree of centralisation of IT decision making. Centralisation in turn affected the degree of user influence on IT governance planning and implementation and the level at which the influence was exercised. The research highlights to universities that they need to ensure stakeholders, including users, are involved in the design of the IT governance process and its ongoing operation. Failure to fulfil the needs of stakeholders can lead to abhorrent behaviour and adversely affect the IT governance operations. This study provides practical guidance to IT management and university executive on the importance of recognising the key influences on the design and ongoing operations of IT governance. The research model detailed in this study gives an informative guide to the critical user influences and their effect on the IT governance process. The research has demonstrated that IT governance is a complex process and to ensure its success, institutions should consider both the social and economic influences and impacts.This research makes an important contribution to IT governance research and theory by identifying the influence user stakeholders have on the IT governance planning and implementation process. The application of stakeholder theory in the research addresses the gap in the literature relating to understanding the influences on the planning and implementation of IT governance in the context of stakeholder theory. The benefits and issues that arise from user stakeholder influence are also explored and provide a deeper insight into the IT governance planning and implementation process for the guidance of organisations undertaking this process. The research conducted should encourage further research into IT governance and the involvement of user stakeholders in the planning and implementation stage.
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