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Abstract

Information Technology (IT) investments are the largest capital budgeting item in most U.S. firms. Thus, there is significant scholarly interest in understanding the relationship between IT investments and firm performance. However, findings to date remain mixed: while some studies find a positive relationship between IT investments and firm performance, others fail to find any significant relationships at all. One possible reason for this may be that most studies conceptualize and measure firm performance in terms of returns~{!*~}but ignore risk. Although risk is also an important aspect of firm performance, and there are tradeoffs between risks and returns, most IS studies have not included risk in examining the relationship between IT investments and firm performance. Focusing only on the return implications of IT ignores risk/return tradeoffs and the possibility that IT can influence the risk/return positions of firms. In this study, we build on and extend the economic theory of complementarities to explain how and why IT influences risk/return relations of firms. We discuss how the incorporation of risk into the analysis of performance effects of IT provides new insights for theory and practice.

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