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Abstract

The agility literature suggests a positive relationship between IT-investments, agility, and performance for firms operating in turbulent contexts. However, agility studies have primarily focused on conceptual concerns, leaving these relationships empirically unexplored. In addition, the literature has focused on for-profit firms operating in commercial markets, thereby leaving other important organizational types unexamined; one such type is the social enterprise (SE). SEs are entrepreneurial organizations with a mission to improve complex social challenges (i.e., healthcare, hunger, education, etc) rather than profit maximization. This void leaves SEs in the dark as to how they can leverage IT to become more agile and improve performance. We draw on the agility perspective to examine how one exemplary SE operating in the context of pediatric global health utilized IT to enhance its agility and improve performance. We identify how the SE’s IT-investment decisions resulted in an IT platform that facilitated increased agility in launching new products aimed at improving survival rates of children. Specifically, we analyze how the SE’s IT platform positively impacted customer, partnering, and operational agility, and demonstrate how this led to dramatic improvements in performance. Finally, we offer evidence to support positive relationships between IT, agility, and performance in social sector contexts.

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