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Understanding the relationship between IT capabilities and operational agility: a multi-method approach

Hongyi Mao (School of Business Administration, Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, Guiyang, China)
Yeming Gong (Artificial Intelligence in Management Institute, Emlyon Business School, Ecully, France)
Ryad Titah (Department of Information Technologies, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 24 October 2022

Issue publication date: 7 March 2023

567

Abstract

Purpose

The system of information technology (IT)-oriented resources and processes that organizations need to develop to achieve operational agility remains unclear. The study research seeks to extend existing competency literature by incorporating the unique contextual nuances of the relationship between IT capabilities and operational agility.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a multi-method approach, this paper presents a theoretical framework of IT-enabled operations strategy that conceptualizes the role of IT capability in leveraging resources and processes for operational agility. Drawing on operations and information systems research, the authors advance that IT enables operational agility through two dimensions. From the perspective of a resource-based operations strategy, the authors explore the role of IT in resource-leveraging activities by investigating the nonlinear relationship between IT infrastructure and IT reconfiguration. From the perspective of a process-oriented operations strategy, the authors explore the role of IT in process-enhancing activities by investigating the nonlinear relationship between IT coordination and IT integration.

Findings

The study results, based on a sample of 113 organizations in Europe, Asia and North America, show that the interaction between IT infrastructure and IT reconfiguration positively influences operational agility, hence showing complementarity between the two constructs, while the interaction between IT coordination and IT integration negatively affects operational agility, hence indicating substitutability between the two constructs. A series of 62 interviews and a case study of Carrefour were further conducted to validate the field survey's results and to provide a finer grained explanation of the research model and quantitative findings.

Originality/value

The study findings offer an alternative explanation of the inconsistent relationship between IT capability and operational agility.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC) Programs of China [72061005, 71661017], Guizhou Provincial Science and Technology Projects ([2020]1Y285), Guizhou Youth Science and Technology Talent Growth Project (KY[2021]125) and Startup Foundation for Distinguished Scholars of Guizhou University of Finance and Economics (2019YJ065).

Citation

Mao, H., Gong, Y. and Titah, R. (2023), "Understanding the relationship between IT capabilities and operational agility: a multi-method approach", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 409-436. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEIM-12-2021-0521

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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