Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 29 Number 3 2012 pp. 5-8

Editorial Introduction

Zwass, Vladimir


THE THREE PAPERS THAT OPEN THIS ISSUE OF JMIS present empirical investigations of diverse aspects of the use of information systems (IS) by teams and groups, with the researchers employing different theoretical lenses. Massimo Magni, Corey M. Angst, and Ritu Agarwal show how the network structure of teams influences the use of the newly implemented systems by team members. Social network theory underlies the study and helps to tease out unobvious dependencies between a team's internal closure and external bridging on the one hand and the infusion of a complex IS into the practices of its individual members. The theme is continued in the next work. Monica J. Garfield and Alan R. Dennis investigate the group development aspect of the introduction of a collaboration technology. The authors focus on the enactment of shared routines. They show that this enactment versus the disruption of the established routines during the introduction of new technology is the key to the understanding of the trajectory of group. Using this lens, the authors formulate an integrated model of group development. Ofer Arazy and Ian R. Gellatly study the motivation and the engagement of the members of groups forming around corporate wikis, an increasingly active component of knowledge generation, sharing, and longitudinal management. Relying on the theory of social cognition and on regulatory focus theory, the researchers examine the role of wiki leaders in the prevalence of one of the two forces that, respectively, motivate or demotivate the full engagement of group members with the wiki.

Two subsequent works rely on different methodologies to study organizational information security. As a part of the general trend to outsource, use process specialists, focus on core competencies, and seek the external expertise and economies of scale (the terms depend on your perspective), many firms outsource a large part of their information security function. In the case of security, particularly when conformance to regulations is sought, this may lead to a new and serious category of risks stemming from system interdependencies through the common outsourcer. In a formal economic analysis, Kai-Lung Hui, Wendy Hui, and Wei T. Yue show that stringent and narrow security regulations, such as certifications, may lead to increased outsourcing to a few managed security service providers--and to increased security exposures owing to the interdependencies. This is an important warning. Of course, we are not facing total security outsourcing yet. What about the internal compliance with the organization's security policies? Yan Chen, K. (Ram) Ramamurthy, and Kuang-Wei Wen present an empirical study that shows the relative advantages of rewards (in combination with punishment) in seeking this compliance. The tenets of the combined deterrence and reward reinforcement theories lead the authors to a scheme of combined reward and punishment, which they proceed to validate in the setting of two financial firms.

E-commerce turns to a large degree on the ever-more voluminous, multi-attribute, detailed, integrated, and closely exploited data on consumers. Therefore, the possession of such data is a coveted corporate asset. Yet, even competing firms trade some of this data with one another. Xia Zhao and Ling Xue conduct a formal economic analysis of such trade during the competition between firms selling the same products and using targeted advertising based on the consumer behavioral data. The model surfaces the rational policies the firms should pursue in the data trades depending on their information differences--as well as the viability of exchanges for trading consumer data.

The potential of e-commerce methods for closing the gap between the supplier and the prospective buyer is not as yet fully realized. Fixed and dynamic price settings, and price discovery via various auction mechanisms still leave much of the more involved transacting to human negotiation--which does not scale up too well. Of course, complex contracts will always require an often protracted negotiation by specialists. However, there is a middle range of complexity, where relatively small and relatively simple transactions can be conducted by humans negotiating over the Web with software agents. Yinping Yang, Sharad Singhal, and Yunjie (Calvin) Xu offer the design theory of such a negotiation agent and investigate experimentally the alternative negotiation strategies. The authors surface an effective strategy and demonstrate this efficacy in respect to the acceptance ratio, utilities, and buyer satisfaction. This line of investigation will certainly push the frontier of selling in e-commerce toward a broader range of transactions.

Two subsequent papers present empirical investigations of the organizational use of IS. We know well that intrinsic motivations generally bind more strongly. Weiling Ke, Chuan-Hoo Tan, Choon-Ling Sia, and Kwok- Kee Wei propose two organizational levers for inducing such motivations in the employees' exploring of enterprise systems, which can lead to a deeper infusion in the system's use. By unpacking the construct of intrinsic motivation, the authors are able to push forward the theory of IS use and, we hope, its practice. The same concern with more effective IS use after a system's adoption is evinced by the work presented by Xuefei (Nancy) Deng and Lei Chi. These authors adopt the perspective of removing the obstacles to such effective use. Using network analysis and revealed causal mapping, the authors surface seven categories of such emergent obstacles and show their differential effects on user categories and system-usage phases. Clear implications for practice follow from both works.

In the concluding paper of the issue, Gimun Kim, Bongsik Shin, and Ohbyung Kwon apply a novel, in this context, perspective to the study of the multifaceted IT capability of a firm. The lens of sociomaterialism helps the researchers to perceive the continuing interaction between the human agency, with it's the ability to set out and realize goals, and the material agency, that is, the capacity of technology for presenting affordances and constraints. The authors further bifurcate the relevant human agency into that of the users and the IT unit. They proceed to develop a multidimensional model of the firm's IT capability based on the entanglement conceptualization stemming from the adopted perspective and show that this perspective offers a closer view of the firm's IT capability as compared to the preexisting views.

Vladimir Zwass