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Trust and Partnership: Strategic IT Management for Turbulent Times by Robert J. Benson

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CHAPTER 4

IT Strategy in Turbulent Environments

A key theme of this book is how turbulence and change impact the formation of IT strategy and IT strategy itself. In this chapter, we define change, distinguish levels of change, and finally delineate the meaning of turbulence. Next, we discuss how organizations in general may deal with change and turbulence in order to remain effective. In particular, we will discuss the impact of environmental turbulence on necessary organization capabilities. This will take us to the discussion of how IT and IT strategy are affected by change and turbulence, and eventually, how IT and management may cope with change and turbulence.

Change and Turbulence Defined

Since the 1960s, the notion that the context in which organizational activities take place affects the way they are managed is well developed in management theory. In their seminal work, two Harvard professors, Lawrence and Lorsch,1 analyzed how environmental uncertainty and complexity under which an organization operates determine how it will be managed. Their analysis was supported by many case examples. “Environment” refers to factors outside the control of the organization's management. Environmental factors may be both internal and external to the organization. Market developments are one example of an external environmental factor; the potential for unpredictable decision making by the sales department is an example of an internal environmental factor for the manufacturing department. ...

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