Information Technology Reference
In-Depth Information
7.1 introduction
This chapter presents an overview of the topic on aligning strategy and information
and communication technologies (ICTs) in public organizations, the aim of which
is to provide a reasonably high-level view of the strategic alignment construct and
offer some perspectives on its relevance to the public sector. This chapter begins
with a perspective on the evolving nature of aligning strategy and ICT in orga-
nizations. For some 50 years now, aligning strategy and ICT has been a topic of
great interest to the fields of both organization and management and ICT manage-
ment. Since 1983, numerous researchers have been interested to learn about the
ICT management challenges that organizations face on an almost annual basis. In
almost every study since, the topic of strategic alignment has persistently ranked
highly. A review of the dynamic features of strategic alignment is presented, which
lays the foundation for the definitional meaning of the topic along with some of
the related challenges and benefits. This is followed by a perspective on the role of
strategic alignment in public organizations. The next section offers some empirical-
based insight into the nature of public-based strategic alignment research and per-
formance implications for the sector. Some of the known impediments to strategic
alignment in public organizations are then reviewed, highlighting distinct chal-
lenges for the sector. A perspective is then presented that considers strategic align-
ment from a process-orientated point of view. This section elaborates on some of the
strategic activities considered necessary when aligning strategy and ICT. A number
of potential opportunities for further research are presented, followed by conclud-
ing comments.
7.2 the evolving nature of Strategic Alignment
The internal organizational elements were of particular interest to Chandler (1962),
who especially focused on the strategy-structure relationship and concluded that
“strategy drives structure.” Chandler highlighted that there must be a fit between
strategy and structure so that organizational change can be managed effectively.
Four internal organizational elements were identified by Leavitt (1965), who empha-
sized the important relationship between all four. These elements consisted of
(a) strategy, (b) structure, (c) systems, and (d) individuals. According to Leavitt,
organizations are a “dynamic equilibrium” between all four elements, and each ele-
ment must be considered in coordination with the other three. No single element is
more dominant than any other given that effectiveness is determined by how each
affects, and is affected by, the others.
In studying organizational anatomy, Ackoff (1971) described organizations as
purposeful systems consisting of elements with a common purpose. Behavior is
deeply embedded in all functions and subsystems; “its functionally distinct sub-
sets can respond to each other's behavior through observation or communication”
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