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Abstract

Given society’s massive investment in information technology and the potentially catastrophic consequences of information technology (IT) failures, understanding how IT management policies influence IT management practice and, ultimately, organizational success in implementing and employing information technology is becoming increasingly crucial. This paper describes a study that took place in a large government agency and sheds some light on the interaction of IT policy, practice and success (or, in this case, failure). Following an exploratory case-study research design, the study employed both interpretivist- and positivist-oriented perspectives to develop a descriptive model that identifies significant factors influencing levels of policy compliance. The model describes the central roles that organizational culture and knowledge play in mediating the effects of information technology, organizational resources and IT management policies on IT policy compliance, implementation and use. The model reflects study participants' common-sense understanding of how IT policies work and why they sometimes fail to work. While the factors identified in the model may not be surprising, the manner in which they interact provides provocative insights into why organizations often fail to achieve desired levels of policy compliance and how focusing on policy compliance might lead to unanticipated consequences.

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