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Abstract

This paper informs the literature on the business value of information technology by conceptualizing a path from IT assets—that is, commodity-like or off-the-shelf information technologies—to sustainable competitive advantage. This path suggests that IT assets can play a strategic role when they are combined with organizational resources to create IT-enabled resources. To the extent that relationships between IT assets and organizational resources are synergistic, the ensuing IT-enabled resources are capable of positively affecting firms’ sustainable competitive advantage via their improved strategic potential. This is an important contribution since IT-related organizational benefits have been hard to demonstrate despite attempts to study them through a variety of methods and theoretical lenses. This paper synthesizes systems theory and the resource-based view of the firm to build a unified conceptual model linking IT assets with firm-level benefits. Several propositions are derived from the model and their implications for IS research and practice are discussed.

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