“Chasing the hottest IT: Effects of Information Technology Fashion on Organizations”
In his article “Chasing the hottest IT: Effects of Information Technology Fashion on Organizations”, Paul Wang seeks to examine the effects that IT fashion has on organizations. He collected data from 109 Fortune 500 companies, and this helped him to establish that the firms that were reputable for implementation of IT fashions in the media did not particularly experience higher performance, especially in the short term. Paul Wang’s article used easily comprehensible language and presented the results in an impressive manner. However, the methodology used in obtaining the data and subsequently the results was heavily dependent on independent commercial firm and this thus raises credibility questions.
There has been consistent evolution of new technologies and managers are faced with the tough choice of deciding whether new technologies are merely passing fads or important “next big things”. There is a big difference between these two types of technologies. A passing fad will often attract high amounts of interest and attention and trigger embellished expectations concerning its benefits during its short lived stint. However, the next big things in IT, are usually important innovations that potentially transform organizational practices and performances hence are widely adopted and institutionalized. Nevertheless, both types of technologies have to undergo the fashion experience period and regardless of the final destination of an innovation, the fashion aspect has become a regularly incorporated phenomenon in IT adoption.
Even though many educational institutions and contemporary organizations recognize the concept of faddishness in IT practices, there is still very little known about fads within the IT sphere. For instance, very few people can give precise definitions of IT fashion and there have been varieties of definitions because of this. Wang, in his article, defines the term”IT fashion” as the transitory collective belief that a technology is new, efficient, and widely used in practice. This definition is limited as it does not include different types of emerging technologies.
The article delves into the impacts of IT fashions on organizations that engage in them and in order to attain its objectives, the author investigated 109 large companies from the Fortune 500 list. Wang used the data from the annual corporate IT budgets of the companies combined with information gathered from public discourse to determine the extent to which the chosen firms had gotten involved in obtaining IT innovations. The data used in the study was from 1994 to 2003 and the results show that the companies that were linked to IT fashions in media and public forums did not necessarily perform highly as compared to those that did not implement IT fashions. Despite the lack of change in performance, these companies earned better reputation in the market and their executives were compensated highly in the short term. Such companies received more admiration in the market and their executives were compensated more highly yet their short term performance changes were not viewed in exemplary terms. The performances also tended to improve but over a period of time.
According to the article, IT fashion significantly impacts on the organizational performance and its reputation as well as the salaries of its executives. Despite the fact that companies that invest in the IT fashion may not post exemplary performance changes within the short term period, companies that want to invest in IT fashion in order to enhance their brand are advised to go ahead because there are potential profits in the long run. The findings support and give a basis for fads for middle phase diffusion of information technology innovations as they make an organization and its leaders regardless of their slower impact on performance improvement. The article results also displace the concept of institutional theory which tends to have a standard focus on practicesand takes for granted the prospects of fashion as a new source of endorsement in social circles. Wang thus recommends that practitioners ought to take a balanced approach between the pressure to perform and social approval when confronting decisions regarding fashionable IT.
This research employed a quantitative approach in collection of data. After identifying a sample of 109 companies, the researcher identified 83 innovations from 23 books on information systems which were published between 1983 and 2002. He asked five senior IT practitioners and five senior information systems professors, all of whom had two decades plus worth of experience to select the innovations that would aptly be described as fashionable IT from the list of 83 innovations. This gave more credibility to his methodology as it made it more objective and valid (Dhebar, 1993).
Nevertheless, the researcher used some flawed techniques in collecting quantitative data. For instance once the IT terms that were to be investigated had been selected, the researcher scanned through ABI/Inform Global to find articles that had been printed between 1971 and 2002 which mentioned the identified innovations either in the titles or abstract. This information helped him to draw a discourse curve that displayed the article counts of every term annually for the period of the study. This approach is flawed because even though there is high probability of a term that is mentioned in the article or abstract being discussed in the body of the article or paper, there is no guarantee of explicit discussion and the article or abstract may discuss other IT issues altogether while just mentioning in passing the terms identified. On this basis, while the researcher took the best approach in identifying the terms, the discourse curve cannot be credible based on the approach taken to identify number of counts of each term in articles and abstracts.
Another shortcoming in the methodology used by the researcher was based on the heavy dependence on a survey carried out by an independent firm, IDC, to obtain data regarding expenditure on IT systems by the sample firms. IDC usually interviews chief information officers (CIOs) of different companies concerning their use and investment in IT on an annual basis. The use of data collected by IDC raises credibility questions regarding the methodology as well as quality of information. First and foremost, supposing IDC made any factual errors in reporting the information, Wang’s article would automatically adopt them hence making the findings incorrect. Secondly, any false claims, if any that were given by the CIOs during interviews carried out by IDC would not be corrected in the article hence raising credibility questions regarding information. Thirdly, if IDC withheld any information from the author in order to protect integrity of the companies it surveyed and uphold confidentiality, then the article would not be able to account for the missing information.
By deciding to base some of his findings on the survey results of a commercial firm, the researcher therefore loses credibility in data collection. There is a possibility that IDC may have withheld data so as to protected vested interests in the firms especially considering that the executives interviewed earned higher income from their technological investment (Gaa, 2009). In order to avoid any of the above suspicions and questions on credibility of information used, Wang should have interviewed the CIOs personally and even sought help from other researchers or assistants. Alternatively, he could have directly sought the documentation from the IT departments of the companies hence confirmed survey findings of IDC. This would have given his results the necessary verification and better credibility (Kreuter, 2008).
This study is extremely significant and its findings can be particularly useful for many organizations considering the digital age and pertinence of technology in our daily lives. IT is not just important to organizations, but also individuals in the modern day economy. For companies to remain effective and competitive in their markets today, they have to invest in the latest technology as this is the best means of enhancing efficiency in their activities. Despite this, the evolution of information technology is too rapid for companies to keep up and everyday there new technologies with immense potential emerge in the market. There are also those innovations that are not sustainable in the long term and hence may not be beneficial for firms. It is therefore imperative for firms to overcome the challenge of identifying and adopting new technologies that can potentially benefit them. This thus makes this paper very significant considering the current business climates and challenges of choosing the right technologies.
While previous related studies focused mainly on the surfacing and evolution of the latest IT innovations, this study has deviated into fashionable IT which was an unfilled research gap. The study is quite impressive as it further analyzed the impact of fashionable IT on organizational performance and this makes it even more significant and applicable to today’s business environment. By demonstrating that acquisition of the latest IT is not automatically matched with improved performance, the study invokes companies to think twice before investing in new hyped technologies. IT practitioners now know that IT fashion are linked to reputation and high pay for IT executives hence they have to align their investment in such technologies to organizational objectives.
The results of this survey were presented very impressively with extensive use of tables with clear explanations. Given the many variables that needed to be analyzed, the researcher consolidated the results, hence avoiding unnecessary repetition and use of complex sentences (Iding et al., 2002). Readers can thus envision the full results more easily. Furthermore, the researcher also made it easier for readers to establish the relationships between the different variables, without necessarily delving into particular analysis methods of each variable (Feng et al., 2011). The use of tables breaks the monotony of prose in the paper.
The author also dedicated a particular section of the paper to discussing the presented results. This was a smart move as any reader who is not good with raw data can deduce the actual interpretation of raw data from the subsequent discussion of the results. The comprehensive discussion has synthesized and discussed each aspect of the results. Hence a reader who is too busy to go through the results can read this discussion and derive the proper understanding and meaning of the raw information.
The research was unique in the sense that it aimed at investigating the impact of fashionable IT on organizations which is a relatively new area. Wang used a strong theoretical approach and a variety of terms to make his argument strong and create valid hypotheses. The main theory that Wang discussed in the article is the management fashion theory while the key words includedinformation technology fashion, engagement with IT fashions, and the effect of fashion on legitimacy and performance. Wang further cites the works of other scholars in his paper and uses this to build strong arguments. Additionally, he draws his hypotheses from the findings of other scientific studies. The fact that his study is based on other scholars and works within the fields gives credibility and validity to his approach in carrying out the survey (Krimsky, 2005).
Writing Style and Ethics
Wang uses non-complex language and goes ahead to explicate the complex and difficult terms hence making it easy for any reader to comprehend his paper. This approach makes the paper suitable for both academic and non academic readers and the general audience at large. By simplifying the results, Wang has made it easy for practitioners to comprehend its implications without struggling.
The research made use of secondary sources and did not coerce any information from participants hence no research violations were made whilst carrying out the survey. For purposes of upholding confidentiality the researcher did not mention the names of the 109 sample organizations used in the survey and as such, no company or executive would lose their credibility or reputation as a result of the findings from this study (Yu, 2008).
Generally, the article was well written because any person can comprehend the issues raised and discussed in it. Of high importance is the significance of the study, taking into consideration the current digital era which is characterized by constant changes in IT innovations. Companies can gain insight from the paper as it discusses the impact of IT fashion on organization performance. Caution should thus be taken when choosing IT investments and practitioners must align such investments with the organizational objectives. The lengthy discussion of the findings of the presentation and raw data that had been tabulated, made it easier for readers to understand implications of these results. Nevertheless, the author ought to have confirmed some of the information obtained from IDC with the CIOs of the companies as opposed to solely relying on IDC data. In overall, this article will make significant contributions to IT practice and research.
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