Information system outsourcing and strategic decision making : a meta-theoretic review of the literature

Netterville, Ross Neil (2013-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Given the ubiquity of information systems and their importance for the functioning of organisations; understanding information systems and their impact on organisations has become critical for organisational success. The ability to effectively use information systems plays an increasing role in the success of organisations. There are many facets to understanding information systems in organisations, this thesis will assess the relationship between outsourcing an information system, and the strategic processes which lead to and are impacted by the outsourcing decision. The aim of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of decision making in the Information System Outsourcing literature by reflecting on the state of the literature from a research point of view. This thesis therefore undertakes a meta-theoretic review of the Information System Outsourcing literature, using journal articles, to get a general picture of the literature which will then be assessed in terms of the breadth of decision making perspectives which have been researched and the depth to which each perspective has been explored. First, the extent to which the development of the field of information system outsourcing resembles the development of the Information System Theory in general will be determined. This will be done by examining the history and development of the Information System Theory field, and examining the consequences of the fields’ rapid development for the legitimacy of the field. Next, criticisms which have been raised against the Information System Outsourcing literature will be identified and discussed, the primary criticism being the charge that the Information System Outsourcing field is broad in scope but shallow in its depth of understanding of decision making in the outsourcing processes. These criticisms, which are shared with the field of Information System Theory, are argued to arise from the history of rapid development of Information System Outsourcing. The potential consequences of these criticisms for Information System Outsourcing practitioners and researchers will also be discussed in order to establish the importance of evaluating the theme of Information System Outsourcing. Thirdly, a framework with which to test the criticism against the Information System Outsourcing literature will be developed. This framework will combine insights from decision theory with those of organisation theory. Finally; the framework will be used to analyse the Information System Outsourcing literature in order to verify or disprove the allegation of a broad but shallow understanding of decision making in Information System Outsourcing. This allegation will be addressed primarily through an analysis of the information system outsourcing literature in order to evaluate its depth. The analysis shows that the literature on Information System Outsourcing, whilst showing positive development, is not yet mature. The danger of the theme of Information System Outsourcing falling into an identity crisis like that faced by its parent field of Information Systems Theory still exists. The analysis also shows the areas in which the literature must develop in order to avoid an identity crisis. On meta-theoretical level, the value of returning to fundamental issues in Information Systems Outsourcing is shown through the use of decision theory and organisation theory.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gegewe die alomteenwoordigheid van inligtingstelsels en hul belang vir die funksionering van organisasies, het insig in inligtingstelsels en hul impak op organisasies van kritieke belang geword vir organisatoriese sukses. Die vermoë om inligtingstelsels effektief te gebruik, speel derhalwe ’n toenemende rol in die sukses van organisasies. Daar is egter baie dimensies van inligtingstelsels in organisasies. Hierdie tesis assesseer die verhouding tussen die uitkontraktering van 'n inligtingstelsel en die strategiese prosesse wat lei tot, en wat beïnvloed word deur, die besluit van die uitkontraktering. Die doel van hierdie tesis is om insig in die veld van inligtingstelseluitkontraktering te verdiep deur besinning oor die toestand van die veld vanuit 'n navorsing-oogpunt. Hierdie tesis onderneem dus 'n meta-teoretiese oorsig van die veld van Inligtingstelseluitkontraktering deur gebruik te maak van joernaalartikels. Die doel is om daarmee ’n algemene beeld te kry van die literatuur. Die literatuur word dan beoordeel in terme van die omvang van die onderwerpe wat nagevors is en die diepte waarop elke onderwerp ondersoek is. Eerstens word die mate van ooreenstemming tussen die ontwikkeling van die gebied van die Inligtingstelseluitkontraktering en die van algemene Inligtingsisteem Teorie bepaal. Dit sal gedoen word deur die geskiedenis en ontwikkeling van die Inligtingsisteem Teorie veld te ondersoek. Daarmee saam word konsekwensies van die gebied se snelle ontwikkeling vir die legitimiteit van die veld, ondersoek. Hierna word kritiek wat geopper is op die veld van Inligtingstelseluitkontraktering geïdentifiseer en bespreek. Die belangrikste kritiek is die klag dat die Inligtingstelseluitkontraktering veld wyd in omvang, maar vlak in sy diepte van begrip is. Dit word aangevoer dat hierdie kritiek, wat ook geld vir die veld van Inligtingsisteemteorie, die resultaat is van die geskiedenis van die snelle ontwikkeling van die gebied van Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering. Die moontlike gevolge van hierdie kritiek vir praktisyns en navorsers in Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering sal ook bespreek word ten einde die belang van die volgehoue evaluasie van die gebied van Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering te verduidelik. Derdens word 'n raamwerk ontwikkel waarmee die kritiek teen die Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering veld getoets kan word. Hierdie raamwerk kombineer insigte uit besluitnemingteorie met dié van organisasieteorie. Ten slotte sal die raamwerk gebruik word om die Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering literatuur te ontleed ten einde die bewering van die breë maar vlak karakter daarvan te verifieer of te weerlê. Hierdie bewering sal hoofsaaklik deur middel van 'n analise van die Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering literatuur aangespreek word ten einde die diepte daarvan te evalueer. Die ontleding van die Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering veld toon positiewe ontwikkeling, ofskoon nie volwassenheid nie. Die gevaar dat die veld in 'n identiteitskrisis val, soos dié van die breër veld van Informasiesisteemteorie, bestaan steeds. Die analise toon ook die gebiede aan waarin die veld moet ontwikkel ten einde 'n identiteitskrisis te vermy. Op meta-teoretiese vlak word die waarde van ʼn terugkeer na fundamentele kwessies in Inligtingsisteemuitkontraktering getoon deur die gebruik van die besluitnemingsteorie en organisasieteorie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80097
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