The effect of social network structures at the business/IT interface on IT application change effectiveness

  • Katja Zolper
  • Daniel Beimborn
  • Tim Weitzel


The challenge of managing the relationship between a firm’s business and IT in order to derive business value from IT is an important topic on researchers’ and practitioners’ agendas. The focus of most related research and management actions has been on the top management or project management levels. However, conflicts frequently arise within the line organization when applications are extended, enhanced, maintained, or otherwise changed operationally outside software development projects. This study focuses on the impact of relationships at the application-change level and strives to identify and explain favorable social structures for effective business/IT dialog at the operational level. We collected data in seven comprehensive case studies, including 88 interviews and corresponding surveys, and applied social network analysis to show that three social structures at the implementation level influence the degree to which IT applications are maintained and enhanced in line with business requirements: (1) interface actors connecting business and IT, (2) the relationships between interface actors and the corresponding unit, and (3) the relationships between interface actors and other employees in their unit. In three cases, less favorable structures are revealed that correspond to low application change effectiveness and software applications that do not meet business requirements. The other cases benefit from favorable social structures and thus enhance fulfillment of business requirements and result in higher IT business value. This paper contributes to IS research by helping to explain why companies may not provide favorable IT services despite favorable relationships at the top management level and successful application development projects.


business/IT dialog social structures business value of IT IT change effectiveness case studies social network analysis 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Information Technology (JIT) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katja Zolper
    • 1
  • Daniel Beimborn
    • 2
  • Tim Weitzel
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BambergBambergGermany
  2. 2.Frankfurt School of Finance & ManagementFrankfurt am MainGermany

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