Original Research

A qualitative system dynamics perspective on the contribution of information technology credibility towards business and information technology alignment

Martin J. Butler
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 53, No 1 | a2774 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v53i1.2774 | © 2022 Martin J. Butler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 July 2021 | Published: 11 July 2022

About the author(s)

Martin J. Butler, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Business School, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Purpose: The dynamic interdependence between the deployment of technological assets and organisational performance remains a challenge for modern enterprises. Organisations reinforce competitiveness and improve performance when business activities and information technology (IT) efforts are aligned. The credibility of the IT organisation is an important influence on alignment. This research guides managers and directs future research to improve IT credibility.

Design/methodology/approach: Interviews with senior leaders about factors influencing IT credibility provided rich data for analyses. The dynamic complexity of creating a credible IT function to ensure alignment was captured using qualitative system dynamic diagrams. A causal loop diagram was constructed to identify feedback loops and leverage points.

Findings: The analysis confirms the impact of three factors identified by prior research. It provides a new perspective on portfolio-level IT governance’s contribution to establishing credibility. The value of using past failure to develop credibility through ownership and resolution emerged from the analysis.

Practical implications: The results provide guidelines to improve the IT organisation’s credibility to improve business and IT alignment. Leverage points to improve credibility are provided, and research into resolving past failure as a mechanism to success is suggested.

Originality/value: While most of the extant literature focused on static alignment factors, causal loop diagrams provided insight into IT credibility’s systemic nature. A new factor (resolving past failure), a new perspective (portfolio level governance), and confirmation of existing factors and identifying leverage points contribute to practice and science.


business and IT alignment; business–IT alignment; strategic alignment; IT investment; IT value; IT credibility; dynamic complexity; qualitative system dynamics; causal loop diagram


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