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Strangers on the train: The relationship of the IT department with the rest of the business

Jacqueline Day (Institute of Business and Law, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 6 March 2007




The purpose of this paper is to provide and develop a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the working relationship between the in‐house IT department and other parts of the business.


In this paper, IT professionals and internal customers at five medium‐large UK‐based companies were interviewed about how they work together for the development and operation of IT services. A grounded theory approach was followed to develop the theoretical framework from the empirical evidence.


In the paper the framework shows how the organisational setting, the attitudes of individuals, social processes and outcomes affect the emergence of collective beliefs that characterise the relationship. The strength of the relationship reflects the degree of congruence between the common beliefs of the parties.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that, within the context of IT services, this study shows the emergence of a larger scale social structure from interactions between individual social actors. Proposals are made for the operationalisation of the theoretical framework and its use for designing an instrument to evaluate working relationships. The work also shows how Grounded Theory Methodology can be used for IS/IT management research.

Practical implications

In the paper management interventions designed to strengthen the bonds between the workgroups are identified.


This paper may help individuals concerned with the development, support and operation of IT services to look beyond the confines of their day‐to day activities to consider the effect of their actions on enduring work group relationships.



Day, J. (2007), "Strangers on the train: The relationship of the IT department with the rest of the business", Information Technology & People, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 6-31.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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