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The alignment of business strategy and IT/IS strategy, where agile software development is applied

Kanavittaya, P. (2016) The alignment of business strategy and IT/IS strategy, where agile software development is applied. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The alignment of business strategy and IT/IS strategy has consistently been one of the top concerns for IS and academic researchers. It has been claimed that, in order for an organisation to gain competitive advantage and take the greatest return for its IT/IS investment, its business strategy and IT/IS strategy should closely align. The strategic alignment literature indicates that this is still difficult to achieve, due to one or more of several key drivers, including strategic alignment being unsustainable (Hirschheim and Sabherwal 2001), characteristics of IT/IS investment (Tallon 2009) and lack of communication between business and IT/IS departments (Chan and Huff 1993) . The aim to this study is to examine whether the alignment of business strategy with IT/IS strategy is facilitated in organisations which apply agile software development. Due to the exploratory nature of this research, a positivist case study approach was adopted, with a total of five case studies selected. The unit of analysis was organisational size (small, medium, and large) in Thailand and Australia. This study employed different sources of information for the purpose of triangulation. These included: interview, questionnaire, field notes, and organizational websites.

The findings of this study show that agile methods play an important role in an organisation that adopts them. They provide a basis for gaining competitive advantage and improving the functionality of the organisation. In practical terms, agile methods are considered a human-centric approach, which not only allow customers and software developers to engage in software development projects, but also keep top management and IT/IS managers working closely together. This not only reflects the technical aspect but facilitates the social dimension (Reich and Benbasat 2000) (i.e. communication, shared domain knowledge, and the involvement of business manager in IT/IS projects) between the business managers and IT/IS managers in relation to achieving strategic alignment. With the significant benefits of agile methods identified, the findings of this study, therefore, suggest that the flexibility of agile methods is a key to an organisation ability to achieve strategic alignment. The findings of this study are not only beneficial to practicing managers, who gain insight into how the flexibility and value of agile methods can facilitate the alignment process, but also will be of benefit to scholars who start studying strategic alignment. Scholars may use the findings of this study as a meaningful reference from which to conduct further studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Armarego, Jocelyn and Fung, Lance
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