The paper examines the topic of operational alignment in the context of academic institutions. It aims to contribute to the understanding of mechanisms constituting operational alignment and the effects of operational alignment. Operational alignment is conceptualized as the adequateness of IT function’s support for the research department’s goals and priorities. A research model, including social and structural aspects and consequences of operational alignment, is derived and tested in a sample of 162 German research departments. Questionnaire-based analysis using partial least squares highlights the positive influences of shared understanding, IT flexibility, and IT service on operational alignment, whereas communication, trust and respect, and participation are not found to directly improve operational alignment. Our results show that operational alignment significantly enhances performance in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Post-hoc analysis further suggests that social antecedents largely contribute to operational alignment by a background mechanism, whereas structural antecedents in terms of IT flexibility and IT service are directly linked to operational alignment. Opportunities for further research are outlined.