Evaluating the success of large-scale, integrated information systems through the lens of IS-impact and IS-support

Rabaa'i, Ahmad A. (2012) Evaluating the success of large-scale, integrated information systems through the lens of IS-impact and IS-support. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study proceeds from a central interest in the importance of systematically evaluating operational large-scale integrated information systems (IS) in organisations. The study is conducted within the IS-Impact Research Track at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The goal of the IS-Impact Track is, "to develop the most widely employed model for benchmarking information systems in organizations for the joint benefit of both research and practice" (Gable et al, 2009). The track espouses programmatic research having the principles of incrementalism, tenacity, holism and generalisability through replication and extension research strategies. Track efforts have yielded the bicameral IS-Impact measurement model; the ‘impact’ half includes Organisational-Impact and Individual-Impact dimensions; the ‘quality’ half includes System-Quality and Information-Quality dimensions. Akin to Gregor’s (2006) analytic theory, the ISImpact model is conceptualised as a formative, multidimensional index and is defined as "a measure at a point in time, of the stream of net benefits from the IS, to date and anticipated, as perceived by all key-user-groups" (Gable et al., 2008, p: 381).

The study adopts the IS-Impact model (Gable, et al., 2008) as its core theory base. Prior work within the IS-Impact track has been consciously constrained to Financial IS for their homogeneity. This study adopts a context-extension strategy (Berthon et al., 2002) with the aim "to further validate and extend the IS-Impact measurement model in a new context - i.e. a different IS - Human Resources (HR)". The overarching research question is: "How can the impacts of large-scale integrated HR applications be effectively and efficiently benchmarked?" This managerial question (Cooper & Emory, 1995) decomposes into two more specific research questions – In the new HR context: (RQ1): "Is the IS-Impact model complete?" (RQ2): "Is the ISImpact model valid as a 1st-order formative, 2nd-order formative multidimensional construct?"

The study adhered to the two-phase approach of Gable et al. (2008) to hypothesise and validate a measurement model. The initial ‘exploratory phase’ employed a zero base qualitative approach to re-instantiating the IS-Impact model in the HR context. The subsequent ‘confirmatory phase’ sought to validate the resultant hypothesised measurement model against newly gathered quantitative data. The unit of analysis for the study is the application, ‘ALESCO’, an integrated large-scale HR application implemented at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), a large Australian university (with approximately 40,000 students and 5000 staff). Target respondents of both study phases were ALESCO key-user-groups: strategic users, management users, operational users and technical users, who directly use ALESCO or its outputs.

An open-ended, qualitative survey was employed in the exploratory phase, with the objective of exploring the completeness and applicability of the IS-Impact model’s dimensions and measures in the new context, and to conceptualise any resultant model changes to be operationalised in the confirmatory phase. Responses from 134 ALESCO users to the main survey question, "What do you consider have been the impacts of the ALESCO (HR) system in your division/department since its implementation?" were decomposed into 425 ‘impact citations.’ Citation mapping using a deductive (top-down) content analysis approach instantiated all dimensions and measures of the IS-Impact model, evidencing its content validity in the new context.

Seeking to probe additional (perhaps negative) impacts; the survey included the additional open question "In your opinion, what can be done better to improve the ALESCO (HR) system?" Responses to this question decomposed into a further 107 citations which in the main did not map to IS-Impact, but rather coalesced around the concept of IS-Support. Deductively drawing from relevant literature, and working inductively from the unmapped citations, the new ‘IS-Support’ construct, including the four formative dimensions (i) training, (ii) documentation, (iii) assistance, and (iv) authorisation (each having reflective measures), was defined as: "a measure at a point in time, of the support, the [HR] information system key-user groups receive to increase their capabilities in utilising the system." Thus, a further goal of the study became validation of the IS-Support construct, suggesting the research question (RQ3): "Is IS-Support valid as a 1st-order reflective, 2nd-order formative multidimensional construct?"

With the aim of validating IS-Impact within its nomological net (identification through structural relations), as in prior work, Satisfaction was hypothesised as its immediate consequence. The IS-Support construct having derived from a question intended to probe IS-Impacts, too was hypothesised as antecedent to Satisfaction, thereby suggesting the research question (RQ4): "What is the relative contribution of IS-Impact and IS-Support to Satisfaction?"

With the goal of testing the above research questions, IS-Impact, IS-Support and Satisfaction were operationalised in a quantitative survey instrument. Partial least squares (PLS) structural equation modelling employing 221 valid responses largely evidenced the validity of the commencing IS-Impact model in the HR context. ISSupport too was validated as operationalised (including 11 reflective measures of its 4 formative dimensions). IS-Support alone explained 36% of Satisfaction; IS-Impact alone 70%; in combination both explaining 71% with virtually all influence of ISSupport subsumed by IS-Impact.

Key study contributions to research include: (1) validation of IS-Impact in the HR context, (2) validation of a newly conceptualised IS-Support construct as important antecedent of Satisfaction, and (3) validation of the redundancy of IS-Support when gauging IS-Impact. The study also makes valuable contributions to practice, the research track and the sponsoring organisation.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 53179
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Gable, Guy, Bandara, Wasana, & Fielt, Erwin
Keywords: formative construct validation, IS impact, IS-impact measurement model, IS success, IS-support, multidimensional constructs, partial least squares, PLS
Divisions: Past > Schools > Information Systems
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2012 00:46
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:06

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