ABSTRACT: Even after a decade of research and discussion, strategic alignment, denoting the fit between information technology (IT) and business strategy, remains an enduring challenge for firms worldwide. In this paper, we go beyond the dominant firm-level alignment paradigm by utilizing a value disciplines perspective on strategic foci to conceptualize alignment at the process level. Theory would then suggest that alignment should be tightest in processes that are considered critical to each firmís strategic focus. Using data from matched surveys of IT and business executives at 241 firms, we detect support for this locus of alignment argument when alignment is identified using profile deviation or moderation. We also find a positive link between alignment and perceived IT business value in each of five primary processes in the value chain. By bringing a process-level view to the study of alignment and its impacts, we go beyond a discussion on the extent of fit--a cornerstone of the literatureóto whether firms are pursuing the right type of fit for the particular mix of processes underlying their strategy. In this way, a process-level perspective can foster a deeper and more meaningful understanding of how alignment affects firm performance. Our results also show a need for managers to reconsider the steps taken to align IT and business strategy by looking more closely at how IT can support individual processes rather than at how IT can support an entire strategy.
Key words and phrases: information technology business value , IT--strategy fit , perceptual measures , process perspective , process-level analysis , resource-based view , strategic alignment , value chain , value disciplines