This paper is a critical analysis of two academic documents from peer-reviewed diaries, each look intoing the Business and IT ( BIT ) alliance subject that has been a top concern for IT practicians for two decennaries ( Cahn, 2000 ) . The documents have been selected as they adopt contrasting research schemes – qualitative and quantitative. The aim of this analysis is to foreground the positive/negative points in both documents in footings of the research ‘s purpose, aims, design, and method and to suggest an alternate research scheme for each paper.
The probe concludes that both documents had positive and negative points, irrespective of their philosophical places and design schemes. Choosing between qualitative and quantitative methods or blending them depends on the survey ‘s inquiries ; both methodological analysiss have their strengths and failings. The chief issue for any research is the credibleness of its findings, irrespective of the research worker ‘s philosophical place.
Introduction and Analysis Structure
This paper is a critical analysis of two academic documents from peer-reviewed diaries, each look intoing the Business and IT ( BIT ) alliance subject that has been a top concern for IT practicians for two decennaries. ( Cahn, 2000 ) For many old ages, a figure of research workers have emphasised the importance of BIT fit in administrations to accomplish competitory advantage ( Luftman et al. , 2005 ) . Reich & A ; Benbasat ( 1996 ) specify alliance as the grade of IT scheme necessary to back up a concern ‘s mission, aims and programs.
Many surveies have been conducted to understand and measure the relationship between concern and IT in administrations, most of which have adopted a quantitative methodological analysis to formalize through empirical observation the relationship between IT investing and organizational public presentation and to supply believable grounds of the positive impact of alining IT scheme to concern scheme. Therefore, it was hard to happen a good qualitative research paper in this country ( Cahn, 2000 ) . The first paper ( paper 1 ) , entitled ‘Understanding the business-IT relationship ‘ ( Coughlan et al. , 2005 ) , follows a qualitative methodological analysis and the 2nd paper ( paper 2 ) , entitled ‘Factors impacting IT and Business alliance: a comparative survey in SMEs and big administrations ‘ ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009 ) , follows a quantitative methodological analysis.
It is of import to observe that this work is non a comparing of the two documents ; hence, the documents are analysed individually to accomplish a clearer image. This paper is organised in the undermentioned manner. Section 3 screens paper 1, foregrounding its positive/negative points in footings of the research ‘s purpose, aims, design, and method. In add-on, an alternate research scheme is proposed. Section 4 screens paper 2 in a similar manner. The decisions and deductions of following different research schemes are discussed in subdivision 5.
This paper provides an penetration into the Business and IT ( BIT ) relationship ( alliance ) in administrations taking “ a communication-based position on the construct of BIT alignment ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:303 ) . In other words, it provides contextual penetration into the BIT relationship, with peculiar mention to the organizational communicating procedure. The writers noted that administrations need to develop and prolong a strong BIT relationship to profit from the value-added development in today ‘s demanding economic system. BIT alignment is a complex procedure that involves making many crossover links between different parts of the administration and requires a strong BIT relationship.
However, this relationship has suffered a divide that stems from the failure to warrant high IT outgo compared to concern benefit. Harmonizing to Coughlan et Al. ( 2005 ) , communicating jobs are the chief subscriber to the BIT relationship divide ; hence, a social-oriented attack was proposed to understand the flow of information in administrations. This is an interpretative research paper following a instance survey scheme with which to roll up and analyze qualitative informations via semi-structured interviews, in order to accomplish an in-depth apprehension of the communicating procedure in the BIT relationship context. The deficiency of the literature ‘s attending to communicating issues in the BIT relationship context was the driver for this inductive attack ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
The research purpose is to supply penetration into the Business and IT ( BIT ) relationship in administrations via the undermentioned aims:
“ Identifying the countries and issues that affect communications in administrations ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:307 ) .
“ Categorizing communicating issues in administrations ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:306 ) .
“ Maping the connexions between organizational issues to the manner in which they relate to IT ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:306 ) .
Investigating “ how different aspects of the communicating procedure interact in existent life ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:307 ) .
Rationale for carry oning this survey
The importance of the research subject was good justified by turn toing the undermentioned points:
Communication jobs within the BIT relationship context are a major concern for both research workers and practicians ( Coughlan et al. , 2005 ) .
Communication jobs are a chief subscriber to the BIT relationship divide ( Coughlan et al. , 2005 ) .
Poor BIT communications are normal in the fiscal sector ; hence, the banking industry has created a new organizational function – the Relationship Manager ( RM ) – to cover with relationship communicating jobs ( Coughlan et al. , 2005 ) .
Despite the importance of communicating within the BIT relationship and deductions for the RM ‘s function, there has been small attending given in the literature ( Coughlan et al. , 2005 ) .
Previous societal surveies ( structuration theory and histrion web theory ) have provided theoretical analyses of the complexness between an administration and its IT substructure, hence a more practical attack required to authorise practicians with solutions.
A 4-dimensional communicating model ( PICTURE ) , based on Shannon & A ; Weaver ‘s ( 1994 ) authoritative theoretical account of communications, was used to steer the survey. PICTURE was originally devised to better IT system design: “ The acronym PICTURE represents existent life communicating constituents and their application: ( 1 ) Engagement and choice ; ( 2 ) Interaction ; ( 3 ) Communications activities ; ( 4 ) Techniques Used for Relationship Establishment ” . ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:306 ) . The model was used to steer the designation of of import countries in the complex communicating procedure. A clearly articulated conceptual model is an of import tool for steering semi- structured interview subjects, and provides a structured attack to construing the findings ( Smyth, 2004 ) .
The survey was conducted on a major high street UK bank, referred to as ‘FinCo ‘ for grounds of confidentiality. Furthermore, the survey was conducted at one point in clip, concentrating on two cardinal countries of the administration – retail banking and IT. The retail banking division was chosen specifically because it is the biggest client of the IT division, and research suggests that retail banking has deep organizational divisions ( Coughlan et al. , 2005 ) .
FinCo is an enlightening instance for the undermentioned grounds:
It has a rapid and extended consumption of IT.
IT is closely integrated into the administration to back up its information direction processes.
FinCo get downing a relation direction programme to ease BIT communications.
FinCo has separated BID activities, making a divide.
Yin ( 2003 34-14 ) defined a instance survey as “ an empirical enquiry which investigates a phenomenon within its dynamic existent life context to let research workers to understand complex issues, particularly when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are non clearly apparent ” .
A instance survey scheme with implicit in interpretative philosophical premises was an appropriate pick for this survey, since the purpose of this work is “ to supply penetration into the Business and IT ( BIT ) relationship in administrations ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:303 ) , following a “ behavioral and social-oriented position, with communicating troubles having as a major determiner ” ( Coughlan et al. , 2005:304 ) .
The writers addressed the model restriction by observing that the model was used in this survey to place countries that affect the communicating procedure – and non as a measurement tool. Recognizing and observing the research restrictions is ever good pattern, as it gives future research workers a get downing point to go on the survey in this country.
Research Method and Data Collection
Harmonizing to Coughlan et Al. ( 2005 ) , the communicating procedure is dynamic and complex, affecting persons with different positions. A qualitative information aggregation method was adopted to supply deep apprehension of the procedure ‘s province, with mention to FinCo ‘s retail and IT relationship. This method is appropriate because it focuses on bring outing participants ‘ perceptual experiences and experiences, which are hard to bring out with a quantitative method ( Ghauri & A ; Gronhaug, 2002 ) .
Coughlan et Al. ( 2005 ) used semi-structured interviews to roll up informations, which were conducted with top-level directors from both retail banking and IT to capture their perceptual experiences of both organizational countries. Each interview session lasted an hr based on a set of prepared inquiries and excess inquiries to spread out on the relevant inquiry. The inquiries were designed to examine for experiences, ideas and sentiments associating to BIT relationship perceptual experiences. There was no account as to why the semi-structured interview methodological analysis was chosen over unstructured interview or concentrate group methodological analysiss, which are better suited as unstructured interviews are frequently used in instance surveies to bring out information without restricting the field of enquiry ( Punch, 2005 ) .
Although Coughlan et Al. ( 2005 ) noted that the interviews covered the spectrum of top-level directors, there was no reference of the sampling method used to warrant the chosen figure of interviews. My premise is that the judgemental sampling method was used, since it is a really popular pick in qualitative research and involves the pick of participants who are in the best place to supply the needed information ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
The writers did non discourse dependability, which is a common unfavorable judgment of qualitative researches. However, qualitative researches argue that dependability is non an issue in qualitative methodological analysis because research reproduction is non executable due to the complexness of the research subject and context. Nevertheless, credibleness could hold been promoted through any of the followers: audio recording of the interviews to cut down interviewer prejudice during informations analysis ( Ghauri & A ; Gronhaug, 2002 ) ; supplying the interviewees with a list of interview subjects to let them to garner back uping organizational paperss that could be used as secondary informations ( Triangulation ) ; utilizing a answering proof technique by subjecting research findings to the interviewees to corroborate that the findings represent the societal world ( Bryman & A ; Bell, 2007 ) .
Alternate Research Strategy
The research job should ever drive the research method ( Cryer, 2006 ) . As discussed earlier, the purpose of the survey is to supply penetration into the Business and IT ( BIT ) relationship in administrations placing relevant countries and the issues ( variables ) that affect communications in administrations. A pure quantitative scheme is non an option for this survey, as this can merely be used when the survey ‘s variables are identified clearly. In other words, research workers by and large have a really clear thought on what is being measured before they start mensurating it. Nevertheless, a assorted methodological analysis can be used to better assurance in findings and to get the better of qualitative scheme restrictions. Mixed method surveies attempt to convey together methods from contrasting research schemes.
The writers could hold started with a qualitative research method, e.g. in-depth interviews with BIT directors from different organizational degrees followed by a thematic content analysis of the canned interview stuff to assist understand and place communicating issues in the administration. Once they identify the communicating countries and issues with mention to the BIT relationship in this administration, they can prove the credibleness of the findings by carry oning a questionnaire study of other BIT directors in other administrations. An on-line questionnaire with close-ended inquiries is best here for easiness of disposal. Qualitative and quantitative methods can be complementary when used in sequence ( Bryman & A ; Bell, 2007 ) .
The research aims and inquiries were non explicitly or clearly exhibited in this paper. In a good structured research paper, a research aim should be clearly defined and expressed within the research purpose subdivision, and it is really of import to clearly specify the research inquiries to assist organize research aims ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
A comprehensive literature reappraisal was conducted to warrant the importance of the research subject. A instance survey scheme with unstructured interviews would hold been more suited for an interpretative attack, but the research method subdivision was really short, which affected transferability ; qualitative research workers are encouraged to supply a elaborate description of their methodological analysis and findings to give others the option of accommodating these findings to their environment. For illustration, a clear function between PICTURE constituents and the semi-structured interview inquiries would add more credibleness to the survey ( Bryman & A ; Bell, 2007 ) .
The chief purpose of this survey is to “ place the organizational size impact on the manner they perceive Business and IT strategic alliance and the relationship between the alignment factors and their planning integrating scheme ” ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009 ) .
Gutierrez et Al. 2009 noted that IT alignment remains one of the top issues for top-level IT directors, and for the past two decennaries many surveies on Business and IT alliance have been conducted, get downing with alignment definition, how to accomplish it, factors impacting it, and its value to administrations. Most of these surveies provided a theoretical apprehension of this procedure, and a few of them provided practical solutions to mensurate alliance ; nevertheless, these theoretical accounts could non be generalised as they were case-specific.
Harmonizing to Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) , assorted alignment factors have been identified, e.g. prior IS success, the communicating degree between concern executives, domain-shared cognition and planning integrating. Most of these surveies were based on big administrations.
The research attack is positive, seeking to place and mensurate the importance of the concern and IT alignment factors ( variables ) with mention to organizational size. It utilises an appropriate quantitative methodological analysis, i.e. carry oning a study of a sample of top-level direction respondents to roll up informations via an on-line questionnaire ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
A positive facet of the survey is that the aims were clearly depicted as below:
“ To place whether little, medium and big endeavors have different perceptual experiences as to which of the factors described by Luftman ( 2000 ) in the strategic alliance theoretical account ( SAM ) are more relevant to achieve alliance ” ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009:198 ) .
“ To place whether there are any correlativities between the factors and the planning integrating scheme adopted in the administrations ” ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009:198 ) .
Although the research aims were clearly defined in this paper, the research inquiries were non explicitly or clearly exhibited. Clear research inquiries leave the reader in no uncertainty as to exactly what the survey seeks to accomplish ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) analysed many scholarly alignment appraisal theoretical accounts consistently, which were categorised to place practical theoretical accounts that used informations analysis to hit factors impacting alliance. The analyses helped to place four sets of writers – Reich & A ; Benbasat 2000, Hussin et Al. ( 2002 ) , Chan et Al. ( 2006 ) and Sledgianowski et Al. ( 2006 ) – whose theoretical accounts are appropriate for the context of the survey ( see Appendix1 ) . The latter ‘s work was based on Luftman ‘s Strategic Alignment Model ( SAM ) .
The writers demonstrated that a critical literature reappraisal was conducted to warrant the pick of Luftman ‘s SAM and to include organizational size and planning integrating factors, as they were non explored in adequate item. Justifying the above steps is a positive facet of the paper ( Saunders et al. , 2007, p.54 ) .
Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) chose SAM as an appraisal theoretical account for this research for the undermentioned grounds:
It can be used to measure any degree of alliance in an administration.
It has been validated via Sledgianowski et Al. ( 2006 ) ‘s extended survey.
It covered most of the alignment factors used in the other three theoretical accounts ( see Appendix A ) .
The survey adopted a comparative cross-sectional design to roll up quantitative informations from a big figure of instances ( directors ) at a individual point of clip ; the informations were related to predefined variables ( factors and properties ) ( Bryman & A ; Bell, 2007 ) .
Research Method and Data Collection
An initial questionnaire with 21 inquiries was tested by 22 professionals to measure the participants ‘ apprehension of it. The feedback resulted in altering the questionnaire to include merely 12 relevant inquiries to map to SAM factors: “ communicating, competency/value measuring, administration, partnership, range and accomplishments ” ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009:203 ) . In add-on, the analysis of the pilot trial informations confirmed the importance of be aftering integrating and its three phases – independent, consecutive and coincident. Pilot proving is important to a self-administered questionnaire in order to guarantee there are no jobs with the inquiries. Furthermore, it enables the research worker to measure the inquiries ‘ cogency and the dependability of the collected information. An extra short questionnaire could hold been used to obtain structured feedback ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) explained that carry oning an on-line study with a standardized set of inquiries was appropriate for this survey, as there is no room for single reading and it provides easy entree to a big figure of participants in different geographical locations. This is a positive point in footings of warranting the pick of the research method, but there was no expressed account as to the relationship between this method and the inexplicit positive research attack. This is a general unfavorable judgment of quantatative documents.
While Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) discussed the grounds for taking executives, directors and top directors as targeted participants, it was non clear as to whether they were concern or IT directors. This differentiation should hold been made really clear, as the questionnaire was designed to mensurate both IT and concern people ‘s perceptual experiences of the alignment factors ‘ importance, e.g. in the communicating factor subdivision of the questionnaire, participants were asked to rate two properties.
The first inquiry rated the apprehension of concern schemes by the IT section ( this should be answered by IT people to accurately stand for the world ) , while the 2nd inquiry rated the apprehension of IT capablenesss by the concern section ( this should be answered by concern people ) ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009:205 ) . This is a bipartisan measuring and requires participants from both sides – this is an highly negative point that could impact the findings ‘ dependability and cogency and could hold been avoided by either depicting the targeted participants in more deepness, i.e. warranting this pick in footings of their suitableness to supply representative replies, or by redesigning the questionnaire so that some inquiries could be answered by different respondent classs.
Neither the restrictions nor the sampling procedure are discussed. It is of import to follow a sampling procedure that includes the undermentioned consecutive activities: specifying the population, taking a sampling frame, choosing a sampling method, finding sample size, stipulating an operational program, and eventually put to deathing the program. Following this procedure will assist in accomplishing a representative sample and accordingly assist the research worker to be confident about the survey ‘s findings.
Another positive result of this procedure is the ability to cipher the response rate, which is a decisive factor in measuring the dependability of study consequences, i.e. findings are seen as more accurate if the response rate is high. The response rate was mentioned really briefly: “ administrations around the universe were requested to take part in the study by telephone to accomplish a better response rate ” ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009:206 ) . In add-on, the informations aggregation subdivision mentioned that a entire figure of 161 responses were collected and merely complete questionnaires were used for informations analysis.
The questionnaire design was appropriate in footings of including the survey ‘s identified alignment factors. It had two parts, the first of which contained inquiries with respects to the respondents ‘ organizational profiles and the degree of be aftering integrating. The 2nd portion covered the factors ‘ prioritisation. Another positive facet of the research design is that organizational size was defined to accomplish consistence when mentioning to a little, medium or big administration.
The informations aggregation subdivision was really brief ; hence it would be really hard to retroflex the survey. Furthermore, the phrase “ administrations around the universe ” ( Gutierrez et al. , 2009:205 ) is a really weak description of the population. Harmonizing to Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) , a entire figure of 161 responses were collected and merely 104 complete questionnaires were used for the information analysis. The information aggregation subdivision should be detailed to let for reproduction, which provides some confidence of the consequences ‘ cogency, dependability and generalisability. In add-on, Gutierrez et Al. ( 2009 ) used the term “ study ” alternatively of “ questionnaire ” on more than one juncture throughout the paper. It should hold been noted that there is a clear differentiation between a study and questionnaire – the first is a method and the 2nd is a tool used for this method ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) .
Alternate Research Strategy
The research scheme should ever be driven by the research purpose. An interpretative qualitative scheme is non applicable in this survey, as the chief aim of this survey is to mensurate the relationship between chiseled variables. Qualitative methods are used chiefly to analyze human behavior and behavior alterations, and are more applicable if the research subject is new and there is non much in the literature to steer the research worker. As discussed earlier, many surveies on Business and IT alignment factors have been conducted for the past two decennaries, during the procedure of which the alliance factors have been identified.
This paper is good structured in general and the research objectives clear. However, the research inquiries did non explicitly show the research scheme. The research design had a few negative points, e.g. a targeted population and the size were non defined clearly. Ideally, research documents should include a step and measuring subdivision to turn to the targeted population, concept indexs and instrument dependability and cogency. However, non all research workers follow the recommended patterns, e.g. some seldom provide information about stableness trials and measurement cogency and merely 3 % of research documents provide measurement cogency information ( Bryman & A ; Bell, 2007 ) .
The information aggregation method is appropriate for accomplishing the research objectives, as carry oning a study is a popular pick amongst positivist methods. Nevertheless, a clear justification for the pick of this information aggregation method in the visible radiation of the research design would add more credibleness to the paper. No attending was given to error control, e.g. sampling-related and informations aggregation mistakes. The best portion of the paper is the abstract subdivision, which is really structured and clear.
Additional structured interviews with Business and IT executives in other similar administrations, using the same inquiries used in the questionnaire, would assist in get the better ofing the above spreads and confirm the survey ‘s findings.
Two research documents that followed contrasting research methodological analysiss were analysed critically. Both documents had positive and negative points, irrespective of their philosophical places and design schemes. In any believable research paper, chiseled and clear aims are critical, as they should take the research design and, accordingly, the method. Hence, specifying the research job is the first and most of import measure of the research procedure, as it is extremely likely that an unsuitable research design and method will be selected if the research jobs are non defined clearly.
Choosing between qualitative and quantitative methods or blending them depends on the survey ‘s inquiries ; both methodological analysiss have their strengths and failings. For illustration, qualitative research provides complex textual descriptions of people ‘s behavior that ca n’t be provided by a contrasting methodological analysis, since quantitative research focuses often on the survey of significances in the signifier of attitude graduated tables.
The chief issue of any research is the credibleness of its findings, irrespective of the research worker ‘s philosophical place. This can be achieved by using multi methods ( informations aggregation triangulation within the same research scheme ) or assorted methods ( qualitative followed by quantitative and frailty versa ) ( Saunders et al. , 2007 ) . Research workers are seeking to happen effectual ways to integrate elements of the contrasting schemes to guarantee the truth of their surveies. As a consequence, assorted, or combined, methodological analysis research is going progressively popular in the concern and direction field ( Bryman & A ; Bell, 2007 ) .