Examining Information Systems Control Alignment in Organizations
Cram, William Alexander
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This research examines a new concept called information systems (IS) control alignment, which refers to the degree that controls within an IS process such as systems development are similar to an ideal profile of controls. IS controls are used to influence the behaviour of employees, often via approaches such as formal policies or managerial oversight. Many companies continue to struggle with ineffective IS controls, as evidenced by underperforming systems development projects, ongoing security breaches, and inconsistent service from third-party providers. A qualitative case study approach is adopted, drawing on data collected via interviews and company documents. IS controls are found to most effectively achieve their objectives when they are grouped into mutually reinforcing profiles characterized by either agile attributes (e.g. evolution, innovation), traditional attributes (e.g. stability, prevention), or hybrid attributes that are employed based on unique organizational circumstances. Findings from this research will help organizations to better achieve their goals by identifying IS controls that complement, rather than conflict, with one another. By more closely examining the implications of IS control choice, organizations can better understand how to influence employee behaviour and oversee day-to-day operations, a topic that is increasingly on the minds of executives and shareholders in light of the rash of business failures in recent years. Findings will also contribute to the academy by conceptualizing and empirically evaluating the new concept of IS control alignment, as well as building theory regarding the relationships between IS processes, controls, and employee behaviour.