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«Researchers have endeavored to increase understanding of the relationships between investments in information systems (IS), competitive advantage, ...»

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VANNOY, SANDRA A., Ph.D. Information Systems, Competitive Dynamics, and Firm

Performance: An Interpretive and Centering Resonance Analysis. (2010)

Directed by Dr. A. F. Salam. 215 pp.

Researchers have endeavored to increase understanding of the relationships

between investments in information systems (IS), competitive advantage, and firm

performance. While the extant IS literature provides important insights on information

systems and competitive strategy, the answer to how information systems contribute to competitive advantage and firm performance remains unclear. This dissertation examines, from a managerial interpretive perspective, how information systems contribute to firms‘ specific competitive actions and responses, and the resultant impacts upon firm performance. The findings from this research suggest that the answer may well lie within the role of information systems in firms‘ competitive dynamics or the specific competitive actions and/or responses in which firms engage. This dissertation comprises two studies. Study I examines managerial interpretations of the role played by information systems in firms‘ competitive dynamics and firm performance. Study II examines the role of social computing and communication technologies in intrafirm social networks and digitally-mediated aggregate cognitive maps at each stage of a competitive dynamics process.

The results of Study I in this dissertation suggest a process model, grounded in data from in-depth interviews with executive- and operational-level organizational managers, industry experts and from relevant organizational and industry documents. The relationships inherent in a firm‘s information systems, competitive dynamics and firm performance can be traced through four interrelated grounded theoretical categories –IT- enhanced Organizational Information Processing and Competitive Action, Information- driven Competitive Action Decision, Execution/Abandonment, and Firm Performance.

Thus, the first study contributes to understanding how information systems enable a process of knowledge dissemination and sharing among managerial decision-makers, how information systems enable a collective and rational competitive action decision- making process, how information systems facilitate and create message channeling systems and create the platform toward competitive actions enactment, and thus, how firm performance is impacted by information systems. This study shows the way in which information systems impact firm performance through the competitive actions and reactions undertaken by a dominant firm. Dominant firms have shown the ability to attain and retain superior performance and exhibit sustained competitive advantage. Thus, the study of the role of information systems in the context of the competitive activity of a dominant firm should be of value to both academics and practitioners.

The research methodology employed in Study I of this dissertation is grounded theory. Grounded theory was chosen, as it is an appropriate method for studying complex, little understood phenomena. However, this study goes beyond many existing grounded theory studies, as each category is supported by and related toward prevailing theory and existing literature. In doing so, this dissertation builds upon existing work by emphasizing both the strengths and weaknesses inherent in extant research, thus encouraging a cumulative tradition. Specifically, this research makes significant and important contributions to the areas of cognition, information processing, decisionmaking, information systems and firm performance in the context of competitive dynamics.

The second study in this dissertation examines the role of social computing and communications technologies in intrafirm social networks and digitally-mediated aggregate cognitive maps embedded within the process of conceiving, enacting and executing firms‘ competitive actions and responses and resulting impacts upon firm performance. The role of information systems in this context raises important new issues that have not been addressed by current information systems research. By examining the role of internal managerial social networks formed around social computing and communications technologies that are used in the conception, enactment and execution of firms‘ competitive dynamics, it is possible to unearth a more complex and integrated role of information systems in organizations.

Study II builds upon the literature in the following areas of research: information systems and firm performance, competitive dynamics in the specific context of the awareness-motivation-capability perspective, social computing, social network theory, and organizational communication in the specific areas of collective and distributed cognition, information seeking and sharing, and organizational memory and learning.

The combination of research methods employed in this dissertation makes a unique contribution to research in its own right. The research methodologies used in Study II are Social Network Analysis and Centering Resonance Analysis in conjunction with the Grounded Theoretical findings from Study I. Grounded Theory has been used in Study I to identify the central concepts, build theory and explain the general role of information systems in competitive actions and firm performance. In Study II, Social Network Analysis and Centering Resonance Analysis have been used to build upon Grounded Theory by examining the collective and interactive nature of organizational communication and decision-making in the context of social computing. Specifically, social relationships and organizational communication processes are examined in this research in the context of social computing and communications technologies embedded within the conception, enactment, and execution of competitive actions and responses toward impacts on firm performance. The two studies are synthesized to provide a novel perspective about a very complex and multifaceted phenomenon: understanding the impact of information systems on firm performance through the lens of competitive dynamics. Specifically, the findings from this dissertation suggest that to account for the impact of information systems upon firm performance, researchers should consider the organizational context, the intentions and actions of key players, and the process of conceiving, enacting and executing competitive actions or responses carried out by the organization. Findings also suggest that practitioners will be better able to leverage IT investments if they understand the embedded role of information systems within the competitive actions or responses undertaken by the firm to maintain or improve relative performance.





INFORMATION SYSTEMS, COMPETITIVE DYNAMICS

AND FIRM PERFORMANCE: AN INTERPRETIVE

AND CENTERING RESONANCE ANALYSIS

–  –  –

This dissertation has been approved by the following committee of the Faculty of The Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

–  –  –

I wish to express my deep appreciation to my dissertation committee Chair, Dr.

A.F. Salam, for imparting to me his research expertise, and for his unfailing guidance, support and encouragement during this dissertation process. I would also like to thank the three members of my dissertation committee, Dr. Lakshmi Iyer, Dr. Kevin Lowe, and Dr. Xia Zhao whose comments and suggestions were invaluable throughout the development of my dissertation.

I would like to extend a special thank you to the managers of FCI (pseudonym), the focal firm used to conduct this research. Their willingness to work with me made this research endeavor possible.

–  –  –

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Overview of Dissertation

1.2. Research Motivation

1.2.1. Study I Research Motivation.

1.2.2. Study II Research Motivation.

1.3. Research Gap

1.3.1. Study I Research Gap

1.3.2. Study II Research Gap

1.4. Research Questions

1.5. IRB Approval

–  –  –

III. STUDY I: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1. Grounded Theory

3.1.1. Theoretical Sampling and Site Selection.

3.1.2. Data Collection.

3.1.3. Data Analysis.

3.1.4. Validation.

–  –  –

V. STUDY I: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS, IMPLICATIONS,

AND LIMITATIONS

5.1. Discussion of Findings

5.2. Implications

5.2.1. Research Implications.

5.2.2. Practical Implications

5.3. Limitations

vi

VI. STUDY II: SOCIAL COMPUTING, COMPETITIVE DYNAMICS

AND FIRM PERFORMANCE: A SOCIAL NETWORK AND

CENTERING RESONANCE ANALYSIS

6.1. Literature Review

6.1.1. Information Systems and Firm Performance.

6.1.2. Competitive Dynamics and Firm Performance................. 88 6.1.3. Awareness-Motivation-Capability Framework................ 90 6.1.4. Social Computing

6.1.5. Social Network Theory.

6.1.6. Organizational Communication.

6.1.7. Cognition

VII. STUDY II: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

7.1. Rationale for Research Methodology

7.2. Data Collection

7.3. Data Analysis

7.3.1. Social Network Analysis

7.3.2. Centering Resonance Analysis.

VIII. STUDY II: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS AND

RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS

–  –  –

IX. IMPLICATIONS, CONTRIBUTIONS, LIMITATIONS,

AND FUTURE RESEARCH OF DISSERTATION

9.1. Implications of Dissertation

9.2. Contributions

9.2.1. Study I Contributions.

9.2.2. Study II Contributions

9.3. Limitations

9.4. Future Research

REFERENCES

–  –  –

Table 1. Managerial Positions of Managers Interviewed in Study I

Table 2. Results of Data Analysis in Study I: Categories, Concepts and Codes

Table 3. Managerial Positions of Managers in Study II with Strong and Weak Ties

Table 4. IT Mediation Intensity in the Competitive Dynamics Social Network Infrastructure

–  –  –

Figure 1. Process Model of Information Systems, Competitive Dynamics, and Firm Performance

Figure 2. Study II Literature Review

Figure 3. New Product Development – Stage 1: Conceiving Social Network

Figure 4. New Product Development – Stage 1: Conceiving Centrality Measures

Figure 5. New Product Development – Stage 2: Enacting Social Network

Figure 6. New Product Development – Stage 2: Enacting Centrality Measures

Figure 7. New Product Development – Stage 3: Executing Social Network

Figure 8. New Product Development – Stage 3: Executing Centrality Measures

Figure 9. New Product Development – Stage 4: Firm Performance Social Network

Figure 10. New Product Development - Stage 4: Firm Performance Centrality Measures

Figure 11. Media Use in Controller‘s Conceiving Social Network Ties

Figure 12. Strength of Media Use in Controller‘s Conceiving Social Network Ties

Figure 13. Media Use in CFO‘s Conceiving Social Network Ties

Figure 14. Strength of Media Use in CFO‘s Conceiving Social Network Ties

–  –  –

Figure 16. Strength of Media Use in COO‘s Conceiving Social Network Ties

Figure 17. Media Use in CFO‘s Enacting Social Network Ties

Figure 18. Media Use in COO‘s Enacting Social Network Ties

Figure 19. Media Use in Controller‘s Enacting Social Network Ties

Figure 20. Media Use in CFO‘s Executing Social Network Ties

Figure 21. Media Use in COO‘s Executing Social Network Ties

Figure 22. Media Use in Controller‘s Executing Social Network Ties

Figure 23. Media use in CFO‘s Firm Performance Social Network Ties

Figure 24. Media Use in COO‘s Firm Performance Social Network Ties

Figure 25. Media Use in Controller‘s Firm Performance Social Network Ties.

............ 157 Figure 26. New Product Development – Stage 1: Conceiving Stage – Digitally-Mediated Aggregate Cognition

Figure 27. New Product Development – Stage 2: Enacting Stage – Digitally-Mediated Aggregate Cognition

Figure 28. New Product Development – Stage 3: Executing Stage – Digitally-Mediated Aggregate Cognition

Figure 29. New Product Development – Stage 4: Firm Performance Stage – Digitally-Mediated Aggregate Cognition

Figure 30. IT Mediated Social Networks in the Competitive Dynamics Process

Figure 31. Digitally-Mediated Aggregate Cognitive Maps in the Competitive Dynamics Process

–  –  –

Chapter one presents an overview of the chapters in this dissertation, motivations for research, gaps in extant research in the context of this dissertation, research questions, and IRB approval information.

1.1. Overview of Dissertation This dissertation is divided into nine chapters. The first chapter introduces the topic of the dissertation, presents the importance of the research in the context of the current competitive business environment, and IRB approval documentation. In chapter one the motivation for the research is provided, the theoretical foundation for the research development is briefly laid out, the research questions are stated, and the two studies that characterize this dissertation are defined.

Chapters two through five, present Study I entitled Managerial Interpretations of the Role of Information Systems in Competitive Actions and Firm Performance: A Grounded Theory Investigation in a Dominant Firm. This study addresses the impact of information systems upon firm performance through the lens of competitive dynamics.

Utilizing managers‘ interpretations of events, this study investigates the role of information systems in conceiving, enacting and executing firms‘ competitive actions and responses and resulting impacts upon firm performance.

–  –  –



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