GRANT, Geraldo (1996)

The Strategic Dimensions of Information Systems Capability: Case Studies in a Developing Country Context

This research addresses the issue of how organisations can build capabilities to acquire, deploy and sustain
computer-based information systems. With the application of information technology dramatically altering the
strategies, structure, and processes of organisations, capabilities in acquiring and deploying IT-based
information systems are considered critical to organisational success. It is often presumed that firms have
similar capabilities to conceptualise, acquire, and deploy computer-based information systems. However, they
have been shown to exhibit disparate capacities to successfully implement such systems.

The concept information systems capability is introduced and refers to an organisation's capacity to effectively
orchestrate the processes of acquiring, deploying and sustaining computer-based information systems to
support its strategic and functional objectives. Emphasising evolutionary and resource-based perspectives of the
firm the research stresses the firm-specific, cumulative, and path-dependent nature of organisational IS
capability. Three dimensions of IS capability are identified. These are routines, resources, and contexts.
Routines refer to the IS-related processes and practices of the organisation. Resources are its endowments.
Contexts reflect the environmental factors influencing IS investment opportunities and decisions. Capabilities
develop through a prescient understanding of the environment, the strategic acquisition and deployment of IS
resources and the establishment of effective routines.

Researchers are concerned about the persistence of ineffective information technology transfer and diffusion in
developing countries. This research seeks to explicate the concept of information systems capability by drawing
on examples from a developing country context. Through case studies and surveys done in Zimbabwe it explores
organisational efforts to develop IS capability. The findings of the case studies confirm the significant impact of
macro-contextual and organisational factors on capability building. A framework for IS capability building is