Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 19 Number 2 2002 pp. 5-6

Editorial Introduction

Zwass, Vladimir


INFORMATION-TECHNOLOGY (IT) INVESTMENTS are the subject of the first three papers in this issue. Debabroto Chatterjee, Carl Pacini, and V. Sambamurthy examine the effects of corporate announcements of investments in IT infrastructure on the valuation of the announcing companies by financial markets. The authors find strong evidence of a positive response by equities markets to such investment, much more so than to the announcements regarding investments in IT applications. The work offers significant evidence of the IT infrastructure being perceived by economic actors as a revenue generator. Indeed, investments in the IT infrastructure have been, for quite some time, analyzed as the bearers of options for future corporate growth. This perspective is taken up by Michel Benaroch, who moves this line of research forward by using this method to purposely embed the options that promise the highest reward-to-risk ratio in an IT investment. The approach allows to embed multiple options for future revenue streams. An entirely different, and complementary, aspect of IT investment decision-making is investigated by Sherry D. Ryan, David A. Harrison, and Lawrence L. Schkade. These researchers study empirically what role the consideration of the social subsystem plays in the corporate IT investment decisions. The authors conclude that corporations do tend to pay greater attention to the effects on social subsystems when major, potentially disruptive initiatives are undertaken. However, they also find significant myopic lacunae—and the insights gained there are of value.

Taken together, the three papers offer an excellent and multifaceted sample of the contemporary thinking on IT investments. The set of papers is made even more compelling by its methodological richness, spanning the empirics based on event analysis, formal options–theoretic analysis, and empirical work based on the social systems theory. Theory and empirics combine to offer guidance for practice.

The next paper in the issue is an introspective study that echoes this diversity. Iris Vessey, V. Ramesh, and Robert L. Glass define the notion of research diversity in the information systems (IS) discipline and study its leading journals from that perspective. The authors define and evolve the attributes they deploy to investigate IS research, which will help in the future work in the area. According to the present study, the Journal of Management Information Systems is, along with Information Systems Research, the most representative of the journals, as well as publishing papers displaying the greatest diversity. Indeed, since its foundation, JMIS has adopted a broad view of the field of IS and, consequently, of its publication domain. In this view, the discipline of management information systems (MIS) includes both the development and the use of the organizational and interorganizational information technologies. Multiple levels of analysis, varied research methods, systems deployed for the electronic hierarchies as well as for markets, are all implicit in this definition. It is not surprising under this definition of the field of MIS, that the authors of the present study find that the field of MIS has itself become a reference discipline.

One of the burgeoning research areas where information systems play a fundamental role is organizational learning, which has been recognized as essential to performance in a knowledge economy. Much discussed and dissected, the construct is difficult to assess. Here, Gary F. Templeton, Bruce R. Lewis, and Charles A. Snyder present and validate an instrument for such assessment. As appropriate at this stage, the work is exploratory. It is expected to lead to more extensive validation and expansion, further relating the construct to organizational performance.

Component reuse is an essential raison d’être of object-oriented software development. Clearly, the benefits of reuse could be expected to be greater, should it be targeted at the earlier stages of development. Better solutions and more efficient processes can be expected therefore at the analysis stage. Gretchen Irwin is investigating here these very claims—to arrive at disappointments. In the novice development environment she investigated, there were no quality benefits. Pursuing further the nature of similarity between the existing software artifact and the software under development, the author is able to discriminate among the attributes of the reuse process that could perhaps be enhanced by reuse with experience. This study has clear implications for practice and should lead to further work, particularly among experienced developers.

Two studies center on the IS personnel. James J. Jiang and Gary Klein deploy discrepancy theory to the turnover of IS personnel, which continues to be expensive for the employers of experienced IT workers, even during the periods of relatively high unemployment. The model developed by the authors is, to put it simply, based on the gap between what the workers expect from an employer and what they actually get. The model works well and is important in shaping career plans in the IS domain. Mark E. McMurtrey, Varun Grover, James T.C. Teng, and Nancy J. Lightner study a closely related issue, that of job satisfaction, in the specific—yet broad—environment of CASE tool deployment. A combination of task restructuring to appropriately rely on the computer-aided development tool with the selection of the more technologically oriented personnel is the recommendation resulting from this work.

Group support systems (GSS) have multiple and interrelated effects on the outcomes and the processes of electronically supported meetings. Process gains and losses result, contingent on the nature of collaboration technologies and the way they are deployed, under task and social structure invariance. Most studies deal with individual meetings. In a longitudinal study presented here, Bruce A. Reinig and Bongsik Shin concentrate on process losses and surface the factors that can limit them over time. Several approaches to limiting the losses or their effects on the meeting outcomes result.