The purpose of this exercise is to take an academic paper and read in detail in order to determine specific information from it.
In my case, I will choose the paper that I found in my previous exercise, called ‘Information technology capability and firm performance: contradictory findings and their possible causes‘
- Does the abstract inform us of the research topic?
- The statement, “…the positive link between information technology capability and firm performance,” at the start of the abstract implies that this is the research topic being reported.
- Does the abstract inform us of what the authors have done?
- Their statement, “we attempted to reexamine the link between IT capability and firm performance with data from the 2000s.” provides clear information of their method in which they researched their topic.
- Does the abstract inform us of the author’s conclusion?
- The statement. “the results of our current analysis showed no significant link between IT capability and firm performance.” is informative of their conclusions.
The Specific Research Question:
The specific research question posed in this paper is “whether superior IT capability can render a firm significant competitive advantage.”
The discussion section of this paper phrases the questions in a different manner: “Does the relationship between IT capability and business performance still hold true [based on studies by Bharadwaj (2000) and Santhanam and Hartono (2003)] after a decade of rapid and persistent changes in IT, such as wide adoption of Web technologies and enterprise application?”
The Methods Employed for the Research:
As this study was a reexamination of a trend suggested by previous studies, the method used here involved replicating, extending, and updating the studies with more data. (IT capability and firm performance, Discussion, page 311). Their method in testing their hypotheses, was “Bharadwaj’s ‘matched sample comparison group’ method to empirically test the proposed hypotheses.” They used matching samples method to minimize the influence that difference in industry and firm size can have on the variance of performance. (IT capability and firm performance, Method: Sample Selections, page 310). In order to determine that their samples did not include “significant difference in firm size”, a mean test (t-test) was utilized in comparing commonly associated firm size characteristics.
They employed the use of a “single control firm for each IT leader firm” and made “direct comparisons between IT leaders and control firms of similar size”. Their justification of only using one rather than many was the size of their sample, and their concern of validity if they had used a wide range of firm sizes as benchmark. (…Method: Sample Selections, page 310).
This study also used the “same variables as Bharadwaj to measure business performance.”
As their samples ended up being non-normally distributed, they used the ‘Wilcoxin signed-rank test’ to test their hypothesis. Their justification for this statistical method over a standard t-test, was that “the Wilcoxin signed-rank test is effective in removing the variance in performance influenced by the difference in industry.”
They also used the regression analysis procedure to test some of their hypotheses, which was the same method as that used in the study by Santhanam and Hartono. (…Method: Statistical Tests, page 311).
Credibility of the Paper:
The influences for the credibility of this paper, aside from the format, are the educational facilities stated below the respective authors’ names.
This article also contains about one and a half pages of references, which gives the information more weight of validity, which implies credibility.
Finally, the article is published in MIS Quarterly, which is “a peer reviewed scholarly journal” (MIS Quarterly, copyright 2017)
Opinion of Conclusion:
From what I understood of what had been written, their conclusion is a valid interpretation from their data analysis. The conclusion that they gave was that they “did not find any discernible evidence for the relationship between IT capability and business performance.” and “our evidence indicates that such a link no longer exists.” Within their documentation they have suggested potential reasons for why their conclusion contradicts the previous conclusions, which implies to me that their conclusion is based solely upon the empirical data results, but they are willing to consider the rationale behind such results. (…Discussion, page 316)
Two Items Learned from Paper:
- Since the 2000′ s, the increased similarity, and decrease in cost of available IT products has created a system whereby most companies are able to purchase an affordable IT system. (…Discussion: Comparison of Performance, page 321). This is interesting to me, as I’m not old enough to have had an awareness of a time when IT was not readily available for business firms. I find it interesting how the commodity of IT systems has changed the expression of competition within business firms.
- The IW500, which selects companies that are leading in the field of business technology innovation, has evolved its selection criteria to match the constantly changing IT field. The IW500 is considered as a “reliable barometer” for determining the IT capability of firms’. (…Method: Sample Selection, page 309). This is interesting to me, as I have never heard of the IW500 before, and because this paper brings into question the validity of the IW500 for long term (longitudinal) studies due to its criteria constantly adjusting to match the “changing business and technological developments”. (…Method: Sample Selection, page 309)
My Understanding of Paper:
My understanding of the paper is as follows:
In summary, the paper describes an ideology that is commonly believed by researchers in Information Systems, and sets out to prove whether the foundation of that belief; the positive correlation between IT capability and firm performance still exists. Their research method involved using data sourced from the IW500 for the years of 2001-2004, and comparing it with data sourced from IW500 in two previous studies. The data was refined to avoid unnecessary input that would lead to misinformation from the statistical analysis that was applied to their data. The results of which, were measured against a set of hypotheses that were constructed in response to the background research of the question. The resulting conclusion was that there is no obvious link between IT capability and firm performance. This conclusion was then discussed, with potential flaws such as the validity of the IW500 as an information source, and the strength of IT capability as an indication of firm performance coming into question.
My personal understanding of some of the technical jargon such as ‘amortization’ and ‘binary variable’ did cause me some confusion but did not detract from the overall understanding of purpose of the research.
Chae, H. C., Koh, C. E., & Prybutok, V. R. (2014). Information Technology Capability and Firm Performance: Contradictory Findings and Their Possible Causes. Mis Quarterly, 38(1), 305-326. Accessed May 7, 2017.