Journal of the Association for Information Systems


While providers of information technology (IT) services widely rely on reference models for IT service management (ITSM) practices, little is known about the actual configurations of these practices, referring to the patterns in which service providers adopt these practices at different maturity stages. We analyze how practice configurations reflect a provider’s ITSM capability and how this capability contributes to provider performance. This study addresses two gaps in the ITSM literature. First, empirical approaches to measuring a capability that manifests in configurations of ITSM practices and potentially different nonlinear configuration strategies are missing. Second, no theory explaining the resulting performance differences of alternative configuration strategies exists. We analyzed data from 315 IT service providers on the configuration of practices described in the widely regarded ITIL (formerly IT Infrastructure Library) reference model for ITSM. With this data, we conducted a Rasch calibration—a psychometric method for modeling latent traits based on noninterval scaled data—to measure practice maturity thresholds and providers’ ITSM capability on the same scale. Further, we regressed this measure of ITSM capability on service provider performance. Our findings contribute to the ITSM literature by uncovering two strategies for configuring ITSM practices with distinct capability scales. Drawing on prior theory, we characterize these as evolutionary and transformational configuration strategies. Service providers in the transformational class obtain higher performance gains from building ITSM capability than those in the evolutionary class. This supports our key argument that underlying practice complementarities are a key source of performance gains.





When commenting on articles, please be friendly, welcoming, respectful and abide by the AIS eLibrary Discussion Thread Code of Conduct posted here.