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Abstract

Information systems researchers have a long tradition of drawing on theories from disciplines such as economics, computer science, psychology and general management and using them in their own research. Because of this, the IS field has become a rich tapestry of theoretical and conceptual foundations. As new theories are brought into the field, particularly theories that have become dominant in other areas, there may be a benefit in pausing to assess their use and contribution in an IS context. The purpose of this paper is to explore and critically evaluate use of the resource-based view of the firm (RBV) by IS researchers. The paper provides a brief review of resource-based theory and then suggests extensions to make the RBV more useful for empirical IS research. First, a typology of key IS resources is presented, and these are then described using six traditional resource attributes. Second, we emphasize the particular importance of looking at both resource complementarity and moderating factors when studying IS resource effects on firm performance. Finally, we discuss three considerations that IS researchers need to address when using the RBV empirically. Eight sets of propositions are advanced to help guide future research.

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