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Abstract

The literature on IS alignment is extensive, has developed significantly in the last twenty-five years, and is itself based on fifteen years of prior work exploring the strategic possibilities of information systems. Several important models have now been developed, but it is not always clear how they relate to each other. This can be problematic for practitioners, as it is not clear how, and indeed when, alignment can benefit an organization. It can be problematic for academics, in that gaps and areas for further research cannot be systematically identified. Furthermore, most alignment studies are motivated by two considerations that have themselves changed over time. First, IS alignment can bring strategic benefits to an organization, and second, alignment is consistently ranked highly as a key issue for IS managers. Over twenty-five years, there have been several key developments in strategic theory, and the issues being addressed by IS managers have changed significantly. This article addresses both problems by providing a meta-model of alignment studies, based on their relationship to different strategic theories. It populates the meta-model with examples of previous studies and demonstrates how it can be used by practitioners and academics.

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