The governance of information technology service provision
Mylonopoulos, Nikolaos (1999) The governance of information technology service provision. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1365705~S15
The governance of information technology (IT) service provision entails all those
elements of the structure and process of contracting and organisation that are
necessary in order to deliver effective and efficient IT services within today's
organisations. This thesis develops a framework integrating those elements of
governance with a view to explaining actual governance structures and to guiding
relevant decisions in practice.
Until the late 1980s, the principal concerns with respect to the organisation of IT
activities revolved around the issues of centralisation versus decentralisation and
end-user computing versus specialist control. Whilst contracts for various systems
and services have always been a significant part of the IT department's activity, the
issue of structuring such contracts took a prominent position on the management
agenda in the beginning of 1990s with the proliferation of large contracts of the
'total outsourcing' kind. IT outsourcing rekindled interest in and reshaped the
agenda of the organisation of IT provision. The debate on IT outsourcing provided
the motivation and the starting point of this thesis.
Thus, chapter 1 reviews this debate and, following on the opinion of others, recasts
the question of 'whether to outsource or not' as 'how to set up the governance (i. e.
the structure and process of contracting and organisation) of IT service provision'.
In order to shed some light on the elements of governance, chapter 2 turns on a
range of economic theories of the firm. These theories are critically reviewed and
some preliminary suggestions as to how they might inform the governance of IT are
put forth. The chapter concludes by setting the theoretical foundations for the rest
of the thesis. The notion of a governance continuum between the ideal pure market
and the ideal pure hierarchy is introduced. Actual governance structures, it is
argued, can be placed on this continuum as individual instances.
Before advancing onto more substantive work, chapter 3 pauses to reflect on the
epistemological basis of this research project. The main principles of the
epistemological position adopted here are taken from the philosophical arguments of transcendental realism. The implications of this epistemological position for the
empirical methods and the theoretical claims made in this thesis are also examined.
Chapter 4 documents an intensive case study at British Petroleum Plc. The purpose
of this case study was to draw lessons from practice and to assess the relevance of
the theories of chapter 2. This case study was an interactive learning process
through which the researcher sought access to management practice in order to
assess economic theories, while the managers at BP sought a broader understanding
of IT outsourcing. The outcome of this interaction was the S-CAGE framework
which coupled theoretical insights with practical relevance.
The S-CAGE (Service Clustering And Governance Establishment) framework is
described in detail in chapter 5. It is put forth as both an explanatory and a
normative account of the governance of IT service provision. It is based on the
notion of governance continuum, it introduces the idea of grouping services into
clusters and it provides a classification of the elements of governance that should be
customised to the characteristics of each cluster of services.
Chapter 6 presents two further case studies aimed at evaluating the usefulness of SCAGE
in understanding and explaining alternative outsourcing practices. ICI and
Anglian Water have been visited for this purpose. On the basis of these cases, the
concluding chapter summarises the strengths and limitations of the proposed
framework. An attempt is also made to set forth some preliminary theoretical ideas
extending the notions of clustering and governance continuum. The thesis
concludes with a final short illustration of the use of the S-CAGE framework.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Information technology -- Management, Contracting out|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Warwick Business School|
|Extent:||ix, 357 leaves|
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