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Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

Though information systems development (ISD) projects use modularization as an approach to better manage complex tasks by decomposing them into simpler intra-project modules, we lack clearly established modalities for managing such modularized ISD projects. Adopting a control theory perspective and leveraging a case study research approach, we unearth the underlying “control mechanisms” that an organization leveraged to manage eight modularized ISD projects. Specifically, we explore the intra-project modular dependencies that the projects’ business requirement documents indicated and use results from semi-structured interviews with project members to identify the corresponding control mechanisms. Our results indicate that, in scenarios with a low level of intra-project modular interdependencies, formal outcome and formal behavior constitute the preferred control mechanisms. However, specific situations related to flexible project practices and volatile client requirements may minimize the level of formal outcome and formal behavior control mechanisms in such projects. A low level of interdependencies between intra-project modules minimizes the need for informal clan control; nonetheless, informal clan-control mechanisms may help team members understand project requirements in a shared manner. Projects with a high level of interdependencies between intra-project modules have a high level of informal clan control. However, in some situations, projects with a high level of intra-project modular interdependencies have a low level of informal clan control often due to time pressures. Organizations may govern projects with a high level of intra-project modular interdependencies and poor structures through an enabling control style. Organizations can effectively govern projects with a low level of intra-project modular interdependencies through authoritative control style except in the projects where they assign team members to multiple projects simultaneously. By leveraging control theory to examine the intra-project modular dependencies, we add to the ongoing discourse on control theory and ISD project governance.

DOI

10.17705/1CAIS.04907

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