Sustaining IT Advantage: The Role of Structural Differences

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Information systems are strategic business tools, frequently essential to a firm and central to its competitive strategy. Their importance is now acknowledged. But information technology—equipment and services—is available to all firms, and most applications can be duplicated. The copying firm often enjoys the advantages of newer and better technology, learns from the experience of the innovator, and thus can offer comparable services at lower costs. When can an information technology-based strategy confer sustainable competitive advantage? The answer may lie with the role of strategic resources in explaining the allocation of economic benefits from an IT innovation. Specifically, information technology can lead to sustainable competitive advantage when it is used to leverage differences in strategic resources. This may be true even in cases where duplication is relatively easy and there are few dynamic effects, like first-mover advantages, to protect the innovation. An important characteristic of IT is its ability to manage interactions among economic activities; the economic theory can be used to establish a link between this characteristic of IT and shifts in resource values. This allows us to identify and examine some opportunities for deploying IT to leverage structural resource differences among firms, including differences in vertical integration and diversification as well as differences in the quality and organization of key resources.
Additional Details
Author Eric K. Clemons and Michael C. Row
Year 1991
Volume 15
Issue 3
Keywords Information technology, corporate strategy, management of information systems, competitive information systems, transactions cost economics, strategic resources
Page Numbers 275-292
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