After more than a decade of intensive studies, business value of information technology continues to generate interest and debate among both academics and practitioners. Drawing upon the IT value literature and the resource-based view of the firm, we develop a process-oriented model of IT value creation in the context of electronic business. Instead of a dichotomous measure of “adoption vs. non-adoption” as typically found in the literature, this model incorporates three stages (investment–usage–value) of the diffusion process at the firm level, with actual usage being an important mediating variable. The model also includes both IT resources and organizational factors, and tests the complementarity between them. A large-scale international dataset, involving 2,139 firms from 10 countries, is used to test the theoretical model. After controlling for firm size and industry effects, our empirical analyses based on structural equation modeling have shown that the investment–usage–value linkages are significant (although the direct link between investment and value is weak), suggesting that usage would be a “missing link” if not included. Another finding is that, while IT still matters (especially deeper use of IT such as back-end integration), complementary organizational resources (e.g., management support and external relationships) are found to be highly significant in creating value from e-business investment. On the other hand, these relationships tend to be moderated by environmental factors. These findings contribute to the ongoing debate over IT value—in this case, the value of Internet technologies in the e-business environment. They also offer important implications for the way firms approach IT investment and management in the post-bubble Internet era.
Zhu, Kevin and Xu, Sean, "The Value of Information Technology in E-Business Environments: The Missing Links in the Renewed IT Value Debate" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 77.