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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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9.3. Limitations While the process model in Study I and depicted in Figure 1 is likely consistent with empirical observation (Eisenhardt, 1989), empirical validation of its concepts and categories in other settings is needed. As suggested by Fairbank et al. (2006), the goal in this study was depth of understanding rather than generality. However, similar studies can aid in understanding this very complex phenomenon. The particular events under study in this dissertation were within one dominant firm within the manufacturing industry. This firm is dominant in its industry and the role of information systems in the process of conceiving-enacting-executing competitive actions might not be indicative of every organization. Given that extant research provides no answer to how and why information system impact firm performance (Sambamurthy et al., 2003), it is not currently known whether the findings of this dissertation are applicable across variations in firm size, non-dominant firms, or across industry settings. However, the insights gained through this dissertation suggest that true understanding of the underlying reasons that information systems impact firm performance can be achieved through rich and interpretive studies. However, such examinations are complex, time-consuming, and

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internal phenomena. Nevertheless, until researchers undertake the task of delving into the processes and practices of organizations such complex issues may never be understood.

Data collection in this dissertation did not include particularities about all managers in the focal firm, FCI, such as their educational and functional backgrounds.

Ferrier (2001) points out those characteristics inherent in the individual participants of management teams may influence decision outcomes. This is an important element that should be included in future theorizing.

The utilization of Grounded Theory in Study I was able to provide a rich and indepth perspective on the categories and concepts that explain the role of information systems in conceiving, enacting, and executing competitive actions toward firm performance. By building upon the findings in Study I and creating a synthesis of two research methods, Social Network Analysis and Centering Resonance Analysis, Study II was able to provide a fine grained view of the informal managerial social networks that formed at each stage of the competitive dynamics process (Rogers, 1986; Granovetter, 1973; Burt, 1976; 1992) as well as an observation of the embeddedness of IT concepts within managers‘ aggregate cognitive map at each stage (Corman et al., 2002). However, as IT Mediation Intensity increases, or through the increasing role of technology in the social network infrastructure, informal social network structures become increasingly fluid, changing as the competitive landscape changes.

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Study I of this dissertation showed a presence of moderating factors in the Enacting stage of competitive activity on the ultimate choice of whether to proceed with a competitive action. A future study will seek to examine the presence of moderating factors on other stages of competitive activity. For example, organizational culture may affect other stages of the competitive dynamics process, such as the initial conception of competitive action or response. Extant research has investigated the role of organizational culture in bringing sustained competitive advantage to firms (Barney, 1986), however, the role of information systems and competitive dynamics in that context has not been addressed.

Study II of this dissertation used the competitive action, new product development upon which to investigate the role of social computing and computing technologies in competitive activity. A future study will look at two additional competitive actions, new customer acquisition and price changes. By looking across three competitive actions, this research will endeavor to examine whether competitive action type drives social network configuration and the central concepts in managerial cognition, or conversely, does social network configuration sometimes drive competitive activity? Additionally, does competitive action type drive the concepts managers interpret as central to the competitive dynamics process?

An important contribution of this dissertation is the foundation for a research approach that may be adopted by researchers and practitioners in organizational settings.

Furthermore, as a better understanding is gained of the manner in which information

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organizations and industries. Thus, a future goal of this research stream is to use the findings of this dissertation to develop testable hypotheses and a survey that can be administered on a broad scale.

As stated earlier in this dissertation, the methodology employed makes a significant contribution to research in its own right. Future research will include a study that places emphasis upon the methodology used across the two studies in this dissertation.

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