Conditional paths to business unit agility: corporate IT platforms and the moderating role of business unit IT autonomy
European Journal of Information Systems
Agility has long been recognised as a key determinant of organisational performance. The pursuit of agility within business units (BUs) is challenging as IT executives in multi-business organisations (MBOs) are tasked with balancing a need for organisation-wide IT synergies against a desire among BUs for local IT solutions that enable agility in their end markets. MBOs are increasingly turning to corporate IT platforms to respond to their BUs’ IT needs but doing so presents a challenge to BU IT autonomy and, in turn, to BU agility. In this paper, we posit that BU agility is determined by resource synergies based on the interplay between corporate IT platforms and local, BU-controlled, IT applications. These applications lead to greater BU process digitisation and, in turn, to expanded BU agility. We evaluate our model using data from an international survey of IT executives in MBOs. Our findings provide support for our model and, in so doing, identify different paths that MBOs can take to enhance BU agility. Our contribution affirms the value of corporate IT platforms for BU agility but suggests that MBOs should tread carefully when developing corporate IT platforms that coincide with mandatory use of shared IT applications.
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