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The Effect of Organizational Culture on Information Technology/Business Strategic alignment in Saudi Firms

Abstract

This research effort is intended to study the dynamic relationship between the IT Strategy and the overall Business Strategy in Saudi Firms. IT strategies perceived to be developed in isolation, meaning that such strategies are put forward by IT managers without any involvement of top business managers. The IT manager may be oblivious or he/she may not have a clear idea of the business strategy leading to a strategic diversion where all important technical investments decisions are made by the IT director alone.

The researcher recognized some major factors that influence alignment including Organizational Culture; therefore the researcher investigated the current organizational Culture at large selected Saudi firms. In addition, perceptions of Information Technology Value and utilization in the targeted companies was identified and analyzed through set of questionnaires and interviews in order to help the researcher to establish the relationship between Information Technology and Organizational Culture, since it would be a valuable part of forming the proposed strategic alignment model. The Saudi firms, where questionnaires have been distributed, and interviews have been conducted are SABB (Saudi British Bank), Saudi Airlines, AL-Marai, and AlTawniah.

The researcher is aiming to collect further data from previous Strategic Alignment Models, and collect more information through additional interviews and questionnaires in order to interpret and validate the findings of the first stage that will lead to the design of the final stage of the Strategic Alignment Model. All data will be combined to give the base for a Strategic Alignment Model. This new model will be a practical one that should fit the Saudi environment.

1. Introduction

Strategic alignment has become one of the most important topics for researchers in all industries. Its main objective is to establish and arrange a relationship between business and IT strategies. From a competitive advantage point of view, organizations with such alignment will have edge over others.

2. Context of the Research

In the last few decades, the gap between business strategy of organizations and their IT strategy has been noticed by researchers and practitioners across the globe. Numerous research articles have been written to indicate this fact and to highlight the importance of bridging the gap between IT strategy and business strategy of organizations, to achieve coordinated results and efficiency for the enterprise. MIS professional, researchers have understood the significance of the issue which exists at global level [1]. Figure (1) summarizes the Information System/Business relationship which can be described as ‘Interdependent'; where any changes in the IS (Software, Hardware, Database and Telecommunication devices will have an impact on the Business and vice versa; any change in the business (Strategy, Rules and Procedures) will have its impact on the Information Systems function of the organization [2].

FIG01-07Since Information systems and organizations influence each another. On the one hand, information systems must be aligned with the organization to provide information that is important to different groups according to the organization need. On the other hand, the organization must be aware of and open itself to the influences of information systems in order to benefit from new technologies [3].
Figure 1: The interdependence between organizations and information systems

(Laudon &Laudon, 2006)

The interaction between information technology and organizations is very complex and is influenced by a great many mediating factors, including the organization's structure, standard operating procedures, politics, culture, surrounding environment, and management decisions as shown in figure (2).

One mediating factor was selected by the researcher, which is the organizational culture, and the purpose of this selection will be discussed in a later section.

Managers must be aware that information systems can markedly alter life in the organization. They cannot successfully design new systems or understand existing systems without understanding organizations. Managers decide what systems will be built, what they will do, how they will be implemented. Sometimes, however, the outcomes are the result of pure chance and of both good and bad luck [2].

3. Original Work in Strategic Alignment

Strategic Alignment is defined as the process of creating and managing a business driven IT organization, for which the main focus is implementing information oriented Solutions, that is most important to meeting the business goals, objectives, and strategies of the enterprise [4]. In order to make organizations successful, it is important for all parts of the organization to move in the same strategic direction. Of particular importance is that the business strategy and the IT strategy are complementary. If they are trying to move the organization in different directions the risk of failure may increase. Given the high level of resources invested in IT by most organizations it is important for it to be used as a strategic resource to contribute towards the achievement of business objectives. The strategic alignment would measure the relationship between an organization's IT function and its business objectives. The degree to which alignment is present in an organization will depend on many factors. These factors will include the knowledge of the subject by management, the organizational infrastructure and culture, the nature of the business, the technology in use, and the ability of the organization to manage change. It is very important to realize that Strategic alignment is a process and not a project. Also Alignment issues should be considered at all levels of the organization, meaning that the occurrence of alignment at one level does not guarantee alignment at another [5].

3.1 Strategic Alignment Models

Alignment models show the relationship between the various domains (Business: mission, vision, objectives and tactics and Technical: processes, skills and knowledge) that influence alignment, which is dynamic with a strategy or technology decision impacting on one or more of the other domains. The alignment model within an organization must be continually reviewed due to the ongoing change in the internal and external environments. Corrective action must be taken to realign the organization when necessary. Many managers do not realize that a decision imposed on one domain may impact on one or more of the other domains [6]. Different people depending on their experience and background will have different strengths in each domain. An IT professional would likely have strengths in IT strategy or infrastructure while a business manager would likely have strengths in business strategy or organizational infrastructure. This could lead to problems if communication channels are not strong and management processes are not in place to facilitate alignment.

There are number of models which were designed to attempt to come up with such an alignment. Some of the most important models are the following:

A. Strategic Alignment Model (Henderson and Venkatramon, 1993)

The model has four domains or variables: business strategy, IT strategy, organizational infrastructure and IT infrastructure [7].

Butler and Fitzgerlad defined the context of the business strategy domain as business scope which refers to “the decisions that determine where the enterprise will compete”; distinctive competencies which “pertains to the areas that determine how the business will compete in delivering its products and services” and business governance which concerns “the choices that enterprises make when competing in the market place, e.g., whether alliances are entered into or not”. While administrative infrastructure refers to “the roles, responsibilities, and authority structure”; the business processes are “the manner in which key business functions are carried out” and skills refer to “the knowledge and competencies of organizational actors.

In the context of IT strategy define technology scope as “the specific types of technology that are considered to be critical to the organization”; systemic competencies refer to “the salient characteristics and technological strengths of the IT systems” and IT governance as “issues refers to the manner in which IT systems are developed”. On the other hand, The IT architecture as “the policies and decisions made in regard to the integration of application systems, systems software, and hardware into cohesive platforms that are captured by the IT architecture dimension”; The processes are referred to as “ how IT systems are planned, developed, implemented, and operated” and the skills dimension is captured by “the experience, competencies, commitments, values, and norms of the participants in the planning, development, implementation, and operation processes” [8].

B. Top-Down Alignment Model

The theory consist of an input-process-output model, seven constructs, six Causal relationships and six hypotheses as shown in figure 4 The input-output-process model provides the initial bases for the theory. The Seven constructs are: the external environment, the internal environment, Planning resources, the planning process, the strategic information systems plan, the implementation of the strategic information systems plan, and the alignment of the strategic information systems plan with the organization's Business plan. These seven constructs exhibit causal relationships among each other illustrated through hypotheses [9].

4. Knowledge Gap

Based on the above, and through screening some of the existing strategic alignment models in the literature review, the researcher figured out that to achieve such an alignment there is a need to consider and integrate the following points:

1. Most of staff, if not all, is unaware of business goals, especially in the environment of Saudi Arabia [10].

2. Important technical investments decisions are made by the IT manager alone [11].

3. No relationship exists (Gap) between Business strategy and IT strategy [12].

4. A lot of factors are not taken into consideration when forming strategic alignment, such as Structure, Culture, politics, and others [13].

5. Strategic alignment models discussed only top management level and discarded other levels [14].

6. Previous strategic alignment models are hard to be understood and implemented in reality [15].

The models discussed in the literature review may have achieved one or two of the above six points, however, there is no existing model that has achieved the above six points altogether.

Based on the above, I have selected Strategic Alignment as a starting and a centre area of my research that the researcher is building on to fulfill the other points mentioned. The model that the researcher is aiming to establish, differs from the existing ones in that it will meet the requirements and challenges of the Saudi environment taking into consideration the 6 above points.

5. Research Aims & Significance

* To bridge the gap between Business Strategy and Information Technology Strategy through developing and designing a simple Strategic Alignment Model, that includes the essence of the major research works in addition to other strategic alignment theories available

* To highlight the role of socio-cultural aspects as a critical success factor for successful IT implementation, which were not taken into consideration in the past

* To measure the contribution of such a model to business performance.

* To encourage Saudi Firms to use such a model to gain competitive competition.

* To reduce the associated costs of implementing Information Systems in Organization

6. Research methods

The researcher has used the mixed research methodology. Mixed research involves the mixing of quantitative and qualitative methods or paradigm characteristics within a stage of the study or across two of the stages of the research process. It collects data either sequentially of simultaneously to best understand research problems [16].

Advantages of using mixed research includes: the major goal for researcher who design and conduct mixed research is to follow the fundamental principle of mixed research, in other words, the researcher should mix quantitative and qualitative research methods, procedures, and paradigm characteristics in a way that the resulting mixture or combination has complementary strengths and non-overlapping weaknesses. When different approaches are used to focus on the same phenomenon, while providing the same result, is a strong evidence for the result. Other important reason for doing mixed research are to complement one set of results with another, to expand a set of results, or to discover something that would have been missed if only a quantitative or a qualitative approach had been used[17].

Questionnaire

One of the most widely used research techniques can be defined as collecting data through written questions [17]. There are a number of different ways in which questionnaires can be administered; for example: posted to the intended respondents or administered over the telephone or face-to-face. A questionnaire design provides a quantitative description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population. From sample results, the researcher generalizes or makes claims about a population [18].

Interviews

Interviews are considered to be the main tool of the qualitative researcher for data collection [18]. Additionally, since the interpretive stance is also being followed, interviews are viewed to be the main and appropriate source from where data has been collected. According to Walsham, interviews allow the best access to the interpretations that the participants have regarding the actions and events, which have or are taking place and the views and aspirations of themselves and other participants. An added benefit is that it allows researchers to step back and examine the interpretations of their fellow participants in some detail, and this is an advantage that other methods may not allow [18].

Data analysis

Data gathered will be analyzed through frequency distributions. These will give way to reviewing the data categories and the number of referrals in each category. With relation to data analysis, the indicators that will be used in evaluating the study include the age of the respondent; the social status; the educational attainment of the respondents; the occupation of the respondents and their length of stay in the company they belong to [19].

The research has involved 4 large organizations, SABB (Saudi British Bank), Saudi Airlines, AL-Marai, and AlTawniah, where interviews have been conducted with CIO's and CEO's to have a clear idea about the company's business strategy. Also, other interviews will take place with IT directors to investigate about the Information Technology (IT) strategy and its relationship with the business strategy. In addition,2 sets of questionnaires were distributed among different levels of the organizations to come up with the types of organizational culture and the use of Information technology in those organizations. At the end, data were collected and analyzed through using SPSS software.

7. Expected Research Outcomes

The results from this research are anticipated to be of great help to top managers, strategic planners, IT managers, and other work force in Saudi environment, and will contribute to the following factors:

* Increasing the awareness of the importance of Strategic Alignment Model Concept.

* Selling the quick wins, by having strategic alignment achieved effectively.

* Showing the importance of the use of Information Technology in organizations

* Identifying the organizational culture as a major factor of achieving strategic alignment.

* Encouraging decision makers and top management to apply and implement strategic alignment throughout the organization.

* Highlighting the weaknesses of previous strategic alignment models and the lessons learned, which would help other researchers for future work

8. Indicative Thesis Structure

The thesis will contain seven chapters (tentative):

Chapter 1: Introduction:

Presents an overview about the research subject. It shows the importance of strategic alignment in all sectors, followed by bridging the gap between business strategy and IT strategy, and the factors that affect strategic alignment. The research aims and significance then was explained followed by a brief discussion of the research methodology, research framework, then prospected research contribution was mentioned.

Chapter 2: Literature Review:

Provides the literature review for this research. It begins with explaining Business strategy, Business planning and its tools, followed by a discussion of IT strategy, IT planning, and its tools. Then a discussion of strategic alignment was presented. And ended with an overview of previous strategic alignment models.

Chapter 3: Research design and methodology:

Describes the research design and methodology conducted in this study. It starts with discussing the research general strategy, methodology and the reasons for selecting the methods of data collection. Followed that is a detailed explanation of the quantitative and qualitative methods, were a detailed description of the design of the research instruments was presented.

Chapter 4: Developing the Parameters of the Strategic Alignment Model:

Presents the need for a strategic alignment Model that can bridge the gap through identifying 3 parameters: Organizational Culture, Business strategy and its domains, and IT strategy and its domains

Chapter 5: Questionnaires Analysis:

Discusses and examines the data collected through the questionnaires for both, identifying the organizational culture, and the use of IT in the 4 Saudi firms

Chapter 6: Interviews Analysis:

Talks about and analyses the data collected through the interviews in the 4 Saudi firms.

Chapter 7: Conclusion and Recommendations:

Proposes the new strategic alignment model, and concludes the study and gives recommendations and future directions.

9. Training Undertaken

* Using electronic library resources in Sep-2006.

* Stage I part A on 30/Aug/2006.

* Stage I part B on 31/Aug/2006.

* Stage II Part A (presentation) on 26/Jul/2007.

* Stage II Part B (Academic writing) on 26/Jul/2007.

10. Review of the research Undertaken

* Wrote 2 chapters of the thesis (Introduction, Overview and Background about Business Strategy, IT Strategy, and Previous Strategic Alignment Models).

* Completed of first level of data gathering (questionnaires & Interviews).

* Passed the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Foundation Certificate.

* Published two conference papers.

* Presented posters at the ARU 1st & 2nd Annual Research Student Conference

11. Action Plan

The necessary steps for completion of the research are as follows:

1. Type of organizational culture and Information Technology use was investigated by the researcher through questionnaires(phase 1)

2. Interviews with CEO's and IT managers were conducted in terms of Business strategy and IT strategy existence(phase 1)

3. Data analysis was carried out, which involved performing statistical analysis (SPSS) into the gathered data.

4. Distributing mores questionnaires and conducting further interviews to in order to establish a relationship between Organization Culture and Strategic alignment and show its important effect on the selected Saudi firms

5. All data from the (phase1) and (phase 2) will be combined and linked together to give the base for designing the Strategic Alignment Model.

6. Design the proposed Strategic Alignment Model

7. Writing up of the PhD thesis and preparation for the oral exam.

8. The plan of work also includes writing and submitting papers, attending conferences related to the study and presenting the work.

Gantt chart

The following chart depicts the action plan of the project and the time expectations for each step in details and it is as follows:

Years

2007

2008

2009

2010

Tasks

2

4

6

8

10

12

2

4

6

8

10

12

2

4

6

8

10

12

2

4

6

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

References

[1] David W. Nickles, '' IT-BUSINESS ALIGNMENT: WHAT WE KNOW THAT WE STILL DON'T KNOW", Proceedings of the 7th Annual Conference of the Southern Association for Information Systems, 2005

[2] Kenneth C. Laudon and Jane P. Laudon, ''Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm'', 9th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2006

[3] McNurlin, B.C., and Spargue, R.S., ''Information Systems Management in Practice'', 6th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2002

[4] Raymond Pap, ''Introduction to Strategic Alignment'', Idea Group Inc, 2001

[5] Yolanda E. Chan," Why haven't we mastered Alignment? The importance of the informal organization structure", MIS Quarterly Excusive, 2002

[6] Allen, D. and Wilson, T., “Vertical trust/mistrust during information strategy formation", International Journal of Information Management, 2003

[7] Henderson, J.C. and Venkatraman, N., “Aligning business and IT strategies”, in Luftman, J.F. (Ed.), Competing in the Information Age: Strategic Alignment in Practice, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1996

[8] Butler, T. and Fitzgerlad, B., “Enterprise Transformation and the Alignment of Business and Information Technology Strategies: Lessons from Practice, 1998

[9] Ruohoueu & Parnisto, Proceedings of the First European Doctoral Seminar on Strategic Information Management, Turku centre for computer Science, 1996

[10] Hatem Tamimi, Ala M. Abu-Samaha & Sufian Yousef ,"Perceptions of Information Technology/Information Systems Value/ Utilisation in Saudi Organisations" Proceedings of the ECIME conference, France, pp 1 - 12, September 20 - 21, 2007

[11] Bassellier, G. and Benbasat, I. (Business Competence of Information Technology Professionals: Conceptual development and influence on IT-business partnerships), MIS Quarterly 28(4): 673-694, 2004.

[13] Baker, E.H. Leading Alignment, CIO Insight 1(45) 19-20, October 15, 2004.

[14] Benbya, H. and McKelvey, B. (2006). Using Coevolutionary and Complexity Theories to Improve IS Alignment: A multi-level approach, Journal of Information Technology 21(4): 284-298

[15] Chan, Y.E., Sabherwal, R. and Thatcher, J.B. Antecedents and Outcomes of Strategic IS Alignment: An Empirical Investigation, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 51(3): 27-47, 2006.

[16] Creswell, JW, "Research design: qualitative and quantitative approaches", Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, 1994

[17] Tashakkori and Teddlie, "Mixed methods in social & behavioral Research", Sage Publications, Inc, 2002

[18] Denzin and Lincoln, "the Landscape of Qualitative Research", Sage Publications, Inc, 2003

[19] Walsham, "Interpretive case studies in IS Research: Nature and Method", European Journal of Information Systems, 1995

Publications

1. Hatem Tamimi, " The Effect of Organizational Culture on Information Technology/Business Strategic alignment in Saudi Firms", 1st Annual Research Student Conference, ARU, Cambridge,2006

2. Hatem Tamimi, Ala M. Abu-Samaha & Sufian Yousef ,"Perceptions of Information Technology/Information Systems Value/ Utilisation in Saudi Organisations" Proceedings of the ECIME conference, France, pp 1 - 12, September 20 - 21, 2007

3. Hatem Tamimi, "The status of IS Planning in Saudi Firms", 2nd Annual Research Student Conference, ARU, Cambridge,2007

4. Hatem Tamimi, "Strategic IS Plans; do they exist in Saudi Firms?", IACeT'2008,The International Arab Conference on e-Technology, Arab Open University, Amman-Jordan, October 15-16, 2008

Appendix A

The Designed Questionnaire

Survey On Strategic Information System Planning Assessment in Saudi companies.

The objective of this survey is to investigate how Saudi managers use Information Technology (computer-based information, software, database, networks, communication, and other devices) to support their Strategic Planning. Your assistance in providing information regarding how often you use IT systems, the reasons for using these systems, and whether these systems satisfy your informational needs will be greatly appreciated.

This survey is conducted under the direction of Mr Mike Smith, Department of Information Technology, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK. All responses are confidential and will remain anonymous.

The success of this study depends on the completeness and the quality of information you provide. We ask you to be as thorough and free as possible in answering the questions in this.

Thank you for your time and cooperation!

NOTE: Please answer this questionnaire only if you are a user of Information Technology (computer-based information, software, database, networks, communication, and other devices). If you are not a user of Information Technology would you ask a manager in your corporation who is to complete this questionnaire.

I. PERSONAL BACKGROUND

1. Organisation name: 2.Sex (M/F):

3. Age:

4. Education: Please choice highest degree attained

(Please choice one):

A. High school graduate or less B. Baccalaureate Degree

C. Masters Degree D. Doctorate

5. Please indicate (how many) college (University) level courses you have completed in Information Technology (Information Systems, Computer Science, Programming, Networks or Communication).

(Please choice one):

0 1 2 3 4 ≥5

II. PRESENT JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

6. Functional area (Please choice one) :

A. Accounting B. Finance C. Marketing

D. Manufacturing E. Research and Development

F. Personnel G. Corporate Administration

H. Information Systems I. Other (Please specify):

7. A. Management Level (Please choice One):

1. First Line Supervisor or Manager

2. Mid-level Manager (Supervising other managers)

3. Executive (Top) Level Manager (Vice president, President, Chairman of the Board of Directors etc.

B. Job Title:

III. USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (PC, Software, Databases, Networks, Internet, and other devices):

8. Managers perform a number of Planning roles. For each of the following roles, please indicate the value of IT. (Please choice a number for each role):

Decision roles

Of Great

Value

Of Moderate Value

No Value At All

Does Not Apply

Choice

A. Capitalist

(Identifies and

initiates changes)

5

4

3

2

1

0

B. Trouble Handler

(Handles important and

unexpected troubles)

5

4

3

2

1

0

C. Resource Allocation

(Approves and allocates

all organisational resources

5

4

3

2

1

0

D. Negotiator

(Represents the organisation

at major negotiations

5

4

3

2

1

0

1. Planning consists of several steps. For each of the following steps, please indicate the value of IT. (Please choice a number for each step) :

Decision steps

Of Great

Value

Of Moderate Value

No Value At All

Choice

A. Identifying problems

or issues

5

4

3

2

1

B. Generating alternative

courses of action

5

4

3

2

1

C. Evaluating the out comes

of each alternative

5

4

3

2

1

D. Ranking the alternatives

and choosing one

5

4

3

2

1

E. Implementing the

chosen alternative

5

4

3

2

1

2. As a Planner you may use both IT-based and non IT-based in decision making. The percent of IT you use for supporting the following Planning tasks is: (Please choice a number)

Decisions

>80%

61% to 80%

41% to 60%

21% to 40%

<20%

None

Choice

A. Long Term (Strategic) Planning

5

4

3

2

1

0

B. Mid-Term (Tactical)

Planning

5

4

3

2

1

0

C. Short Term

(Operational)

Planning

5

4

3

2

1

0

3. Managers have a mental model (i.e., an image, idea, or conceptualization of the organisation) which they use for planning, controlling and operating purposes. How helpful is the Information Technology Systems (IT) you are presently using in forming or revising the mental model of your corporation?

(Please choice a number):

Very Helpful Moderately Not Helpful

Helpful At All

5 4 3 2 1

12. How valuable is the information the existing IT provides to your mental model in guiding your planning, controlling and operating decisions?

(Please choice a number):

Of Great Value Of Moderate Value Of No Value At All

5 4 3 2 1

13. Overall, how important is IT for Planning that are critical to the success and effectiveness of your managerial duties?

(Please choice a number):

Very Important Moderately Important Not Important At All

5 4 3 2 1

Iv. SOURCES AND TOOLS USED TO OBTAIN IT-BASED INFORMATION

14. You obtain the IT-based you use for Planning mainly

(Please choice one):

A. By yourself

B. Through a designated person

C. Through a request to an information systems group

D. Other (Please specify):

15. Please indicate, on the average, how many hours per week you actually use a personal computer (PC) or a terminal to obtain computer-based information which is essential for the performance of your duties.

(Please choice one):

A. >16 hours B. 9 -16 hours C. 5 -8 hours

D. 1 -4 hours E. < 1 hour F. None

16. Please indicate the average number of hours per week use each of the following hardware pieces:

A. I don't use any hardware pieces. Yes/No?

Hours/week hours

B. 1. Stand-alone personal computer (PC) hours

2. PC or other terminal connected to an internet hours

3. PC or other terminal connected to an “On-line”

distributed computer system hours

4. PC or other terminal connected to a Local Area

Network (LAN) hours

5. Other (Please specify) :

hours

17. Please indicate the average time in hours per week that you use each of the following software applications to support Planning related to your job.

Software applications

Hours/week

A.

Wordprocessing

hours

B.

Spreadsheet/financial reports preparation

hours

C.

Data Base applications

hours

D.

Graphics applications

hours

E.

Running other packaged or developed programs

(Please specify):

hours

F.

Electronic mail/communication

hours

G.

Writing/debugging/running your own programs

(Please specify):

hours

H.

Other applications (Please specify):

hours

18. Of the following IT-based information systems (ITIS) please rank in order of importance (with 1 being the most important) the ones you use for obtaining the information you need for Planning and leave others blank.

A. Information Reporting System (IRS); i.e., a system that provides regularly scheduled reports

B. Office Information System (0IS); i.e., a system that provides document/word processing and electronic mail/communications

C. Executive Information System (EIS); i.e., a system that provides customized reports/analysis for top executives

D. Decision Support System (DSS); i.e., a system that provides randomly requested reports/analysis for solving specific problems

E. Transaction Processing System (TPS); i.e., a system that collects, processes and stores data related to the organisations operations.

F. Artificial Intelligence/Expert Systems (AI/ES); i.e., systems that attempt to simulate human intelligence/make available the knowledge of expert(s) for decision making in specialized areas.

G. Other (Please specify) :

19. Please rank the following sources of IT-based information in order of importance for your Planning on your job, (with 1 being the most important source).

A. Regular (hourly, weekly, monthly, etc.) reports

B. Non-Scheduled and non-interactive reports requested for specific needs

C. On-line, interactive, query/analysis reports obtained as needed for decision making.

D. Other (Please specify):

20. Which of the following best describes the IT you are presently using (Please check one) (Please choice one):

A. It was developed mainly to support the informational needs of managers (decision makers)

B. It was developed especially for my informational needs

C. It was developed mainly for reasons other than supporting the informational needs of managers

D. Other (Please specify) :

21. Do you intend to initiate any changes to the existing IT within the next twelve months?
YES / NO?

If yes, which one of the following statements best describes the intent of the planned changes? (Please choice one):

A. To develop IT especially for my informational needs.

B. To develop IT which mainly supports the informational needs of managers

C. To develop IT mainly for reasons other than supporting the informational needs of managers

D. Other (Please specify:

22. Overall, how satisfied are you with the IT you are presently using to support your Planning? (Please choice one):

Very Satisfied Neither Satisfied Very Dissatisfied

Nor Dissatisfied

5 4 3 2 1

Appendix B

The Interview Questions

Questions for CEO's & CIO's

1. What is the main role of a CEO?

2. Do you believe that all staff understands the main objective of the organization?

3. Does your organization have (short-term, mid-term, and long-term) Goals? Is Staff aware of them?

4. Do you consider yourself to be Computer literate?

5. Do you believe that a CEO should have a technical knowledge?

6. Do you require your staff to be Computer literate?

7. Do you think that the use of Information Technology might change the direction of your organization?

8. Do you have Information Technology infrastructure in your organization?

9. Did you face any resistance while implementing Information Technology?

10. Do you provide your staff with training to increase their technical skills?

11. Do you make decisions with regards to buying Information Systems or you delegate this to the IT director?

12. Who gathers the requirement needed for the organization in terms of IT?

Appendix C

2 Chapters at the PhD level

(Introduction, Literature Review)

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Background

Strategic alignment has become one of the most important topics for researchers in all industries. Its main objective is to establish and arrange a relationship between business and IT strategies. From a competitive advantage point of view, organizations with such alignment will have edge over others.

In the last few decades, the gap between business strategy of organizations and their IT strategy has been noticed by researchers and practitioners across the globe. Numerous research articles have been written to indicate this fact and to highlight the importance of bridging the gap between IT strategy and business strategy of organizations, to achieve coordinated results and efficiency for the enterprise. MIS professional, researchers have understood the significance of the issue which exists at global level [1]. Figure (1) summarizes the Information System/Business relationship which can be described as ‘Interdependent'; where any changes in the IS (Software, Hardware, Database and Telecommunication devices will have an impact on the Business and vice versa; any change in the business (Strategy, Rules and Procedures) will have its impact on the Information Systems function of the organization [2].

(Laudon &Laudon, 2006)

The interaction between information technology and organizations is very complex and is influenced by a great many mediating factors, including the organization's structure, standard operating procedures, politics, culture, surrounding environment, and management decisions as shown in figure (2).

One mediating factor was selected by the researcher, which is the organizational culture, and the purpose of this selection will be discussed in a later section.

Managers must be aware that information systems can markedly alter life in the organization. They cannot successfully design new systems or understand existing systems without understanding organizations. Managers decide what systems will be built, what they will do, how they will be implemented. Sometimes, however, the outcomes are the result of pure chance and of both good and bad luck [2].

Hannu Salmelaa and Spilb explain that “The challenge of aligning information systems (IS) decisions with business needs was discovered already in the early 1980s. For almost a decade, strategic IS planning was ranked on the top of the listings of critical issues in IS management” [4]. This section aims to define what is meant by Business Strategy, IS Strategy and IS/Business Strategic Alignment.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines strategy in general as “the art of so moving or disposing troops or ships or aircraft as to impose upon the enemy the place and time and conditions for fighting preferred by oneself”. While Christensen et al defines business strategy as “the pattern of objectives, purposes or goals and major policies and plans for achieving those goals, stated in such a way as to define what business the company is in, or is to be in, and what kind of company it is, or is to be”[5]. Also, Steiner and Miner define business strategy as “the formulation of basic organisational missions, purposes and objectives; policies and program (sic) strategies to achieve them; and the methods needed to ensure that strategies are implemented to achieve organisational ends”[6]. On the other hand, Earl defines and IS Strategy as "a robust information management framework for the long-term management of information and its supporting technologies"[7].

Luftman defines Business IT Strategic Alignment as "Application of IT in an appropriate and timely manner, in harmony with business goals, strategies, and needs". When discussing business-IT alignment, terms such as harmony, linkage, fusion, fit, match, and integration are frequently used synonymously with the term alignment. Alignment is about a process to ensure that the organizational strategies adapt harmoniously [8]. Wilson perceives an information systems strategy as “it brings together the business aims of the company, an understanding of the information needed to support those aims, and the implementation of computer systems to provide that information. It is a plan for the development of systems towards some future vision of the role of information systems in the organization” [9]. Reich and Benbasat refer to Strategic IS Planning as “the process of identifying a portfolio of computer-based applications that will support an organization's business plans, thus enabling the organization to align its information systems with its business needs and achieve its business goals”[10]. Chia et al perceives Strategic IS Plan purpose to align the IT organization with the strategic goals of the enterprise or any of its units as it can be led by top business, functional area or information systems management [11].

Strategic Alignment is defined as the process of creating and managing a business driven IT organization, for which the main focus is implementing information oriented Solutions, that is most important to meeting the business goals, objectives, and strategies of the enterprise [12]. In order to make organizations successful, it is important for all parts of the organization to move in the same strategic direction. Of particular importance is that the business strategy and the IT strategy are complementary. If they are trying to move the organization in different directions the risk of failure may increase. Given the high level of resources invested in IT by most organizations it is important for it to be used as a strategic resource to contribute towards the achievement of business objectives. The strategic alignment would measure the relationship between an organization's IT function and its business objectives. The degree to which alignment is present in an organization will depend on many factors. These factors will include the knowledge of the subject by management, the organizational infrastructure and culture, the nature of the business, the technology in use, and the ability of the organization to manage change. It is very important to realize that Strategic alignment is a process and not a project. Also Alignment issues should be considered at all levels of the organization, meaning that the occurrence of alignment at one level does not guarantee alignment at another [13].

1.2 Knowledge Gap

Based on the above, and through screening some of the existing strategic alignment models in the literature review, the researcher figured out that to achieve such an alignment there is a need to consider and integrate the following points:

7. Most of staff, if not all, is unaware of business goals, especially in the environment of Saudi Arabia [14].

8. Important technical investments decisions are made by the IT manager alone [15].

9. No relationship exists (Gap) between Business strategy and IT strategy [16].

10. A lot of factors are not taken into consideration when forming strategic alignment, such as Structure, Culture, politics, and others [17].

11. Strategic alignment models discussed only top management level and discarded other levels [18].

12. Previous strategic alignment models are hard to be understood and implemented in reality [19].

The models discussed in the literature review may have achieved one or two of the above six points, however, there is no existing model that can achieve the above six points together.

Based on the above, I have selected Strategic Alignment as an area of my research. The model that this research is aiming to establish differs from the existing ones in that it will meet the requirements and challenges of the Saudi environment taking into consideration the 6 above points.

1.3 Research Aims & Significance

* To develop and design a simple Strategic Alignment Model, which includes the essence of the major research works in addition to other strategic alignment theories available.

* To measure the contribution of such a model to business performance.

* To provide organizations competitive advantage by using this model

1.4 Research methods

The researcher has used the mixed research methodology. Mixed research involves the mixing of quantitative and qualitative methods or paradigm characteristics within a stage of the study or across two of the stages of the research process. It collects data either sequentially of simultaneously to best understand research problems [20].

Advantages of using mixed research includes: the major goal for researcher who design and conduct mixed research is to follow the fundamental principle of mixed research, in other words, the researcher should mix quantitative and qualitative research methods, procedures, and paradigm characteristics in a way that the resulting mixture or combination has complementary strengths and non-overlapping weaknesses. When different approaches are used to focus on the same phenomenon, while providing the same result, is a strong evidence for the result. Other important reason for doing mixed research are to complement one set of results with another, to expand a set of results, or to discover something that would have been missed if only a quantitative or a qualitative approach had been used[21].

Questionnaire

One of the most widely used research techniques can be defined as collecting data through written questions [21]. There are a number of different ways in which questionnaires can be administered; for example: posted to the intended respondents or administered over the telephone or face-to-face. A questionnaire design provides a quantitative description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population. From sample results, the researcher generalizes or makes claims about a population [22].

Interviews

Interviews are considered to be the main tool of the qualitative researcher for data collection [22]. Additionally, since the interpretive stance is also being followed, interviews are viewed to be the main and appropriate source from where data has been collected. According to Walsham, interviews allow the best access to the interpretations that the participants have regarding the actions and events, which have or are taking place and the views and aspirations of themselves and other participants. An added benefit is that it allows researchers to step back and examine the interpretations of their fellow participants in some detail, and this is an advantage that other methods may not allow [22].

Data analysis

Data gathered will be analyzed through frequency distributions. These will give way to reviewing the data categories and the number of referrals in each category. With relation to data analysis, the indicators that will be used in evaluating the study include the age of the respondent; the social status; the educational attainment of the respondents; the occupation of the respondents and their length of stay in the company they belong to [23].

The research has involved 4 large organizations, SABB (Saudi British Bank), Saudi Airlines, AL-Marai, and AlTawniah, where interviews have been conducted with CIO's and CEO's to have a clear idea about the company's business strategy. Also, other interviews will take place with IT directors to investigate about the Information Technology (IT) strategy and its relationship with the business strategy. In addition,2 sets of questionnaires were distributed among different levels of the organizations to come up with the types of organizational culture and the use of Information technology in those organizations. At the end, data were collected and analyzed through using SPSS software.

1.5 Expected Research Outcomes

The results from this research are anticipated to be of great help to top managers, strategic planners, IT managers, and other work force in Saudi environment, and will contribute to the following factors:

* Increasing the awareness of the importance of Strategic Alignment Model Concept.

* Selling the quick wins, by having strategic alignment achieved effectively.

* Showing the importance of the use of Information Technology in organizations

* Identifying the organizational culture as a major factor of achieving strategic alignment.

* Encouraging decision makers and top management to apply and implement strategic alignment throughout the organization.

* Highlighting the weaknesses of previous strategic alignment models and the lessons learned, which would help other researchers for future work

1.6 Indicative Thesis Structure

The thesis will contain seven chapters (tentative):

Chapter 1: Introduction:

Presents an overview about the research subject. It shows the importance of strategic alignment in all sectors, followed by bridging the gap between business strategy and IT strategy, and the factors that affect strategic alignment. The research aims and significance then was explained followed by a brief discussion of the research methodology, research framework, then prospected research contribution was mentioned.

Chapter 2: Literature Review:

Provides the literature review for this research. It begins with explaining Business strategy, Business planning and its tools, followed by a discussion of IT strategy, IT planning, and its tools. Then a discussion of strategic alignment was presented. And ended with an overview of previous strategic alignment models.

Chapter 3: Research design and methodology:

Describes the research design and methodology conducted in this study. It starts with discussing the research general strategy, methodology and the reasons for selecting the methods of data collection. Followed that is a detailed explanation of the quantitative and qualitative methods, were a detailed description of the design of the research instruments was presented.

Chapter 4: Developing the Parameters of the Strategic Alignment Model:

Presents the need for a strategic alignment Model that can bridge the gap through identifying 3 parameters: Organizational Culture, Business strategy and its domains, and IT strategy and its domains

Chapter 5: Questionnaires Analysis:

Discusses and examines the data collected through the questionnaires for both, identifying the organizational culture, and the use of IT in the 4 Saudi firms

Chapter 6: Interviews Analysis:

Talks about and analyses the data collected through the interviews in the 4 Saudi firms.

Chapter 7: Conclusion and Recommendations:

Proposes the new strategic alignment model, and concludes the study and gives recommendations and future directions.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This research is about the relationship between Business strategy and IT strategy from one side, and the affect of organization culture on this strategic alignment in Saudi firms from the other side. In order to help understanding each component individually, this literature review surveys the major researches and practices in the field of Business strategies, IT strategies, and IT-business strategic alignment. The aim of conducting this literature review was to derive a conceptual research framework or IT-business strategic alignment model. The theoretical research model derived should combine the key principles of IT-business strategic alignment literature. At the same time, it is important to keep the model uncomplicated and applicable so that it is of a practical use to management and IT practitioners.

2.2 Business Strategy

Management of a firm needs strategy, to make sure that everything goes well in the company. It is important to know what strategy is about, what can it do to help the company prosper, what will happen if not used properly, what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a strategy. Strategy is a plan that assimilates the company's major target; policies and rules; decisions and sequences of action into organized whole. It can apply at all levels of organization and pertain to any of the functional areas of management [24]. Strategy is plagued by a stigma of unsystematic reasoning. It is also used in incomplete searches for strategic alternatives, and bounded rationality [24]. Strategy is a combination of the company's objectives, policies and decisions to be done in unison or contingent upon each other. Strategy thus refers to how a company's products or services its trade is presented to consumers in an effective manner as to gain loyal customers. A business strategy reflects managerial choices among different alternatives and signals organizational commitment to particular products, markets, competitive approaches, and ways of operating the enterprise. When firms formulate their business strategies, they define their objectives while considering their resources and capabilities. Additionally, they respond to the opportunities and constraints in the marketplace. Hence, it is important to understand the driving forces of the competitive environment [25].

2.2.1 Business Strategy Definitions

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines strategy in general as “the art of so moving or disposing troops or ships or aircraft as to impose upon the enemy the place and time and conditions for fighting preferred by oneself”. While Christensen et al defines business strategy as “the pattern of objectives, purposes or goals and major policies and plans for achieving those goals, stated in such a way as to define what business the company is in, or is to be in, and what kind of company it is, or is to be”[5]. Also, Steiner and Miner define business strategy as “the formulation of basic organizational missions, purposes and objectives; policies and program (sic) strategies to achieve them; and the methods needed to ensure that strategies are implemented to achieve organizational ends”[6].

The strategy of the firm is the match between its internal capabilities and its external relationships. It describes how it responds to its suppliers, its customers, its competitors, and the social and economic environment within which it operates. The analysis of strategy uses people's experience of the past to develop concepts, tools, data, and models which will illuminate these decisions in future. Taking corporate and business strategy together, people learn why some firms succeed and others fail [25]. Strategy is a way for the company to survive internally and externally. It is what a company uses to compete with competitors. Strategy is also what the company uses to bring better services to people. Without a strategy that is effective, a company might end up having more problems.

2.2.2 Strategic Business Planning

A wise person once said “If you don't plan to success, you are planning to fail”. Another one said “If you don't know where you are going, how will you know how to get there?” the answer of this question is “planning”. Planning is the road map that enlights the organization's way. Any organization must prepare its strategic plan.

Generally, planning is defined as “Management processes of determining what an organization needs to do and how best to get it done” [26]. These processes composed of three basic components, first component is setting the organization's goals, second component is developing the strategy to achieve these goals, and the third component is developing the tactical and operational plans to implement and execute the developed strategy.

Before talking about the different types of plans, there are different types of goals which should be clarified. Every organization has three types of goals, long-term goals, intermediate goals, and short-term goals. Long-term goals are considered the primary organizational strategic goals, by its name, its extended over long period of time, usually five years or more. Intermediate goals are typically set for a period of one to five years, while the short-term goals are set for a period of less than one year [27].

Accordingly, Plans can be viewed on three levels, strategic, tactical, and operational plans. Strategic plans reflect the business process to achieve the business strategic goals. Strategic plans concern with allocating resources, the organization priorities, which in turn leads to create the business workflows to meet the strategic goals which are usually created by top level management.

“Tactical plans are short range plans for implementing specific aspects of the company's strategic plans” [28]. Tactical plans usually created by middle level management with advising of the top level management. While the operational plans prepared by the low-level or operational managers to meet the short-term goals for daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

2.2.3 Strategic planning tools and models

Most of the tools and models were developed to identify and analyze the interaction between the external and internal environments. There are many famous tools and models which are available, but some of them share important characteristics such as flexibility and adaptability, and they are as follows:

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis was first created by Albert Humphrey lately of 1960s. It is a strategic planning technique used to evaluate the organization's Strength and Weaknesses as well as the environmental Opportunities and Threats. In the strategic formulation process, the organization tries to maximize its Strength to take full advantage of the environmental Opportunities; meanwhile it tries to find the way to reduce the Weaknesses within the organization in order to stay away from the environmental Threats [28].

Strengths and Weaknesses are usually identified by internal factors, most likely, they consist of Company culture, company image, access to natural resources, market share, financial resources, organizational structure, brand awareness, exclusive contracts, and key staff.

Strengths of the organization come from many internal factors for instances, talent management with an excellent conceptual skills and decision-making skills, surplus in cash flow, well trained employees who have excellent technical skills, the public relation expertise, and good business location. All of these strengths of the organization are used to fetch the environmental Opportunities surrounding the organization.

As well as the Weaknesses of the organization are drawn by internal factors, such as lack of expertise, poor quality goods or services, damaged reputation, and sometimes there are many factors that could be considered as Strength and Weakness at the same time, i.e. business location, if the business location is bad, it will be considered as a Weakness point but if business location is good, as mentioned previously, the business location could rather be considered as a Strength point.

Over and above, the Opportunities and Threats are usually identified by external factors, most likely, they consist of customers, competitors, market trends, suppliers, partners, social changes, economic environment, and political environment. A successful organization has to take advantage of any open Opportunity by utilizing Strengths, the opportunities might be achieved by entering new markets, developing differentiated products, or accessing exclusive resources.

The Threats surrounding the organization result from changes within the organizational environment, those Threats could result from changes of customers' taste, new competitor, new competitive product invented by existing rival, or new governmental regulation. The top level management has to be aware of the environmental Threats and organizational Weaknesses in order to avoid those Threats by reducing the Weaknesses. Successful management has to be proactive to avoid threats, not to be reactive by taking the correction action. The key success factor of SWOT is to be realistic, identifying the realistic Strengths as well as Weaknesses that can improve the chance of taking full advantage of Opportunities and avoiding Threats.

The Ansoff's Matrix

The Ansoff's Matrix is one of the methods that provide market/ product growth strategies for firms. It was created by Igor Ansoff's. It focuses on the growth strategy of markets and products of an organization by marketing “new or existing products in new or existing markets.” [29]. Moreover, it provides direction for the business regarding the growth strategy by providing different growth strategies.

The Ansoff's matrix contains four growth strategies which I will describe in the next paragraphs. The first strategy is the Market Penetration. The market penetration means that the company is looking to grow by selling or marketing their existing products into existing markets. There are four objectives of the market penetration. The first objective is to keep or increase the market share of existing products by having competitive pricing strategies or by increasing the advertisement.

The second one is to take out the competitors in a mature market by taking over the market using the strategy of strong promotions and strong pricing strategies. The third one to use the knowledge of competitors and customers needs gained from the experience in the market to increase the usage of the market by current customers which means. The risk is low in the market penetration strategy since that the firm is already aware of the market it is in and it uses its existing resources and core competencies to achieve the objectives of the strategy

The second market/product growth strategy suggested y the Ansoff's matrix is the Market Development. Market development is selling or targeting the firm's existing products into new markets. There are many ways to achieve market development including pursuing new geographical regions, increasing the market share and attracting new customers with new pricing strategies. Since the firm is expanding into new markets, the risk is higher than the market penetration. However, this strategy id recommended when the “firm's core competencies are related more to the specific product than to its experience with a specific market segment” [30].

The third market/product growth strategy is Product Development which means that the company is targeting existing markets with new products. This process requires the firm to develop new competencies in order to develop new products that can compete and take place among the other competitors in existing markets. However, this strategy is recommended “if the firm's strengths are related to its specific customers rather than to the specific product itself” so that they target the new product to their current customers [30]. In addition, this process is considered more risky than penetrating the market by increasing the market segments since it requires the firm to develop new competencies that can take the new products to the existing market level so they can compete with the other products.

The fourth strategy in the Ansoff's Matrix is the Diversification which means that the firm is marketing new products in new markets. In this case, the firm is seeking markets that it has no small or no experience in. adding to that, it requires an intensive market research to provide a clear idea about what is expected to be gained from the new strategy to the firm and to have a reliable assessment of risks that comes with this strategy.

Adding to that, the Diversification strategy is called the “suicide cell” in the Ansoff's Matrix because this growth strategy is considered the most risky one among the other strategies because it requires market and product development at the same time which might require the company to go out of their core competencies. On the other hand, implementing this strategy has its advantages including the chance of gaining high revenues in return and “the potential to gain a foothold in an attractive industry” [30].

The Boston Matrix

The Boston matrix, also called BGC - the Boston Consulting Group, was created in the 1970s by the BGC to help firms decide which part of their business they should invest in more and which part to not. First, there is the firm's portfolio which contains all the businesses and products that create a firm. Second, there is the Strategic Business Units (SBUs) which are the “units of the company that has a separate mission and objectives and that can be planned independently from the other businesses [31]. Those two things are important in the Boston Matrix because they help the firm define their business and products and which one to invest in and which one to shut it off or decrease the investment in it.

The Boston matrix contains four parts which at the same time distinguishes four types of SBU. The first part is the Stars which are highly growing businesses and markets and have relatively strong competition with its competitors in the markets. In order to keep the Stars' growing, they need heavy investments. However, their growth will slow down and they will become Cash Cows if they kept their market share. In addition, the Cash cows are businesses that have a relative high market share with low market growth.

This kind of SBU provides big cash flow, but in order to keep the cash flowing they need to be managed and they only need little investment because the growth opportunities to grow more in their markets. Nonetheless, the advantage of the Cash Cows to the firms is that they provide the needed money for the firm to invest in their Stars.

The third kind of SBU is the Question Marks which are “businesses or products with low market share but which operate in higher growth markets” [31]. The Question Marks have the potential to grow if the firm invests more in them. However, the problem is that they need to be though about hardly by the management in order to decide which one to invest in and which one to let down because they have low revenues at the time but they have high market share and exist in highly growing markets, so the potential to make profits is there. Moreover, the last part is the Dogs which are businesses or products that exist in low growing markets and have low market share. However, “Dogs may generate enough cash to break-even, but they are rarely, if ever, worth investing in” [31].

Porter's Five Forces Model

The Porter's Five Forces Model is a tool used for the industry analysis and business development created by Michael Porter of Harvard Business School in 1979 [32]. This tool is mainly used to analyze the attractiveness of an industry structure. This analysis is concentrating of identifying the essential five competitive forces. These five fundamental forces illustrated by the following figure.

The porter's five forces are important to recognize where power lies in the business industry, it is useful because it helps understand the strength of the current competition and the strength of the field you are moving into. In other words, it helps an organization understand the amount of profit that is possible within its industry.

* Threat of Substitute Products: Are there many products from competing firms that customers can choose to buy?

* Threat of New Entrants: How easy is it for new competitor to get started in the industry?

* Bargaining power of the Customer: Can consumers influence pricing by ordering in volume and bargaining in other ways? (Looking not just at end-user customers but at wholesalers and other intermediaries.)

* Bargaining Power of the Suppliers: Can suppliers rigidly control the prices of what they provide, or does the presence of competing suppliers help keep prices low?

* Competitive Rivalry within an Industry: Is competitive advantage spread evenly among many organizations, or does one dominate the marketplace?

* Successful organizations have to consider these five forces when evaluating the profitability and to discover new ways of expanding.

2.3 Information Technology Strategy

The role of IT in business has dramatically increased in all industries lately and became an irreplaceable part of business, never the less, For CEO's and IT managers, they have to be sure that IT delivers a value to the business, otherwise it would reflect negatively and add unnecessary costs on the organization.

2.3.1 Importance of Information Technology Strategy

The organization's portfolio of IT initiatives and projects is assessed along two key dimensions the first dimension is: IT Impact on business operations; in each firm, a significant portion of investments and resources are directed toward projects and initiatives that ensure improved quality, functionality, and reliability of IT enabled operating core. The second dimension is: IT impact on strategy. Categorization of investments along these dimensions enables executives to assess the alignment of IT with the strategic goals of the firms and then to ensure that the approaches for organizing and managing IT are appropriate given placement on the strategic grid. These two dimensions used to define four categories of IT impact that help determine the approach used to identify opportunities, define and implement IT enabled business initiatives, and organize and manage IT assets and professionals [33].

* IT strategies are no longer optional. It is the very ground of business survival. It is important to understand the notions of strategy, master the techniques and tools of the discipline, follow a structured methodology, and carefully manage its execution.

* An IT strategy is a necessary part of a leading firm's business strategy. However, the business strategy must drive the IT strategy. That is, successful IT codifies and institutionalizes existing culture and organizational structures. The use of technology to improve product or service development and delivery must already be part of the firm's philosophy or ethos (corporate culture) [34].

* Information technology offers unique opportunities, but it also poses risks. When used ineffectively—with insufficient attention to training, quality, or systems and organizational integration—software can confound seemingly routine operations. The "bleeding edge" that symbolizes the forefront of technological change thus has been joined by a "bleeding tail" of strategic stumblers, with many of the failed dot-coms demonstrating that a firm easily can be both [35].

* In contrast, the firms successfully directing the transformation recognize that a viable business strategy is a necessary condition for an effective IT strategy. This is unremarkable. What is notable is that the IT strategies the companies are pursuing have evolved from existing cultures and organizational structures, and build on doing better what the firm already does well [36].

* Define the new value of information for the corporation.

* Define the new role of IT in the Information Age.

* Create new processes for managing information in the business enterprise.

* Develop new metrics for information-intensive competition, such as information conversion.

2.3.2 IT Strategy Planning

Developing a strategy is essentially defining short and long term objectives, or priorities, that can be accomplished by focusing your resources on specific initiatives that address your technology issues. The planning part is where you develop detailed plans of how and when you plan to go about implementing these initiatives [36].

Managers who develop strategies and plans are seen as proactive managers and not reactive managers. It's an important distinction in developing your track record and credibility.

The basic elements that determine the level of IT use are introduced, followed by a closer look at the characteristics of IT use by higher-level firms. This is done first in terms of general business strategies, then as regards the specific role and interactions of IT with strategies and organizational structures.

For comparative convenience, the IT strategies that firms follow can be classed by how firms treat IT and what they expect from using it. Each of the levels is a general characterization of what is a continuum, with Level 1 not being a strategy in any meaningful sense. Level 3s are using totally integrated management as their overall strategic paradigm.

The basic attributes that define strategy levels are the extent to which IT is integrated into a firm's overall business strategy, the use of IT to create functional benefits and to establish competitive advantage, and the mix of customized and packaged IT used to enhance firm-specific advantages to create value and competitive barriers that rivals cannot emulate easily. That is, firms using higher-level strategies successfully use IT to differentiate their products and services from competitors' in terms of kind, quality, or price on a long-term basis in ways that cannot easily be replicated, thus establishing a competitive advantage relative to others [37].

Firms vary in planning their IT strategies; they can be categorized as follows:

* Firms use a minimal strategy that does not address the issue of how to use IT to differentiate their products and services, including new ones, from those offered by competitors. Differentiating is important because having a competitive edge comes down to price and features. If a firm forfeits features, it is left with just price. And even being low-price is not enough in the many markets where innovative producers can add features or enhance service without increasing price, as is shown in several of the case studies [37].

* Strategists see IT as integral to their corporate strategies and competitive success, and use IT as an important competitive tool to help them own the future of their industry's evolution. The case studies indicate that they make IT and software choices for rationally explainable business reasons, and use proprietary software as an essential input into virtually all aspects of their businesses. They realize that although packaged IT systems are readily available and seem cost-effective, pure off-the-shelf IT solutions give little advantage because any benefits can be competed away by easy emulation [37].

Therefore higher-level firms use semi-customized and customized vertical application software. Packaged solutions available to all cannot improve competitive advantage unless linked to a larger proprietary system. The key to success depends on effectively mixing physical production and delivery with the use of IT systems to achieve a result satisfactory to customers. The point is that software closely related to a firm's organization and business strategy is not easy for competitors to emulate, and thus can establish a competitive barrier. Done properly, this use of IT adds value and creates competitive barriers that more than cover the cost of using and developing the customized IT systems [37].

2.4 Strategic Alignment Models

Alignment is important to all organizations, but it is not yet clear how to achieve harmony between business strategy, information technology (IT) and e-commerce and what the impact of this alignment would be on an organization. In the past, the IT department was responsible for planning, development and management of information systems (IS). With the convergence of e-commerce, gaining an understanding of how e-commerce and IT may be jointly employed to support organizational strategies is important for managers (it is acknowledged that some organizations place e-commerce in the IT department, while others have it as a separate department). Good practice will ensure that the organization will find the best place for it. It is, however, good policy to split e-commerce and IT staff while aligning strategies. It is necessary to align the strategy for the e-commerce department as well. This alignment could be either lawful or chaotic [38].

A. Strategic Alignment Model (Henderson and Venkatramon, 1993)

The model has four domains or variables: business strategy, IT strategy, organizational infrastructure and IT infrastructure [39].

Butler and Fitzgerlad defined the context of the business strategy domain as business scope which refers to “the decisions that determine where the enterprise will compete”; distinctive competencies which “pertains to the areas that determine how the business will compete in delivering its products and services” and business governance which concerns “the choices that enterprises make when competing in the market place, e.g., whether alliances are entered into or not”. While administrative infrastructure refers to “the roles, responsibilities, and authority structure”; the business processes are “the manner in which key business functions are carried out” and skills refer to “the knowledge and competencies of organizational actors.

In the context of IT strategy define technology scope as “the specific types of technology that are considered to be critical to the organization”; systemic competencies refer to “the salient characteristics and technological strengths of the IT systems” and IT governance as “issues refers to the manner in which IT systems are developed”. On the other hand, The IT architecture as “the policies and decisions made in regard to the integration of application systems, systems software, and hardware into cohesive platforms that are captured by the IT architecture dimension”; The processes are referred to as “ how IT systems are planned, developed, implemented, and operated” and the skills dimension is captured by “the experience, competencies, commitments, values, and norms of the participants in the planning, development, implementation, and operation processes” [40].

B. Top-Down Alignment Model

The theory consist of an input-process-output model, seven constructs, six Causal relationships and six hypotheses as shown in figure 4 The input-output-process model provides the initial bases for the theory.

The Seven constructs are: the external environment, the internal environment, Planning resources, the planning process, the strategic information systems

plan, the implementation of the strategic information systems plan, and the alignment of the strategic information systems plan with the organization's Business plan. These seven constructs exhibit causal relationships among each other illustrated through hypotheses [41].

C. CAP Gemini's Unified Framework of Alignment

The model breaks down the overall problem into a number of the related aspect areas covering Business (people and process), Information (including knowledge), Information Systems, and Technology Infrastructure, with two specialist areas addressing the Governance and Security aspects across all of these. Analysis of each of these areas is structured into four levels of abstraction: Contextual, Conceptual, Logical and Physical [42].

2.5 Organizational Culture

Modern organizations are confronted with a series of unprecedented changes, such as large scale mergers and acquisitions, globalization, as well as the rise of virtual organizations made possible by new communication technologies. Accordingly, a manager's universe is marked by increased complexity and uncertainty. The challenge for organizations and their leaders today is to remain coherent while dealing with the increasingly specific demands of its many different stakeholders. In such a world, identity plays a critical role because it provides meaning, stability, and distinctiveness. Who are we? Is one of the most critical questions organizations and their executives need to address [43].

Culture is how you manage people and the older and more successful the organization, the stronger its culture, its nature and its identity become. Organizations are communities of people with a mission, and the more a strategy operates from the paradigm of "organization as machine" the greater the likelihood that it will not work. A core culture is central to the functioning of any organization [44]. Top managers must understand that culture is the most powerful force available to them when it comes to successfully implementing their business strategies. Most top managers know how to analyze the external environment using variety of methods, such as (7s's, SWOT, PEST) but are unable to analyze the internal environment and understanding their organizational culture. Organizational culture exists, but it is more important to find out, if top managers and staff are part of it or not.

Organizational culture involves the top management and how they behave and operate, the history of the organization, strong groups, policies, and practices. There are some models and tools which decide what your culture is, and whether it would fit your strategy, such as Hofstede cultural orientation model, the Jonson and Scholes cultural web [45].

Hofstede emphasizes that "Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster". He identified 5 Cultural Dimensions: Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI), and Long-Term Orientation (LTO) [46].

Another important issue arises, when top managers implement a new strategy or change the strategy of their organization. They overlook its effectiveness on leadership and culture and assume things will automatically fall in line [47]. Staff will have different reactions towards it, meaning some will react in a positive way and adapt to it. Others will take some time, and the rest would resist. It is not easy to change the organizational culture in a short period of time so top management needs to plan for this and commit to it so that they could gain the staff confidence and also they should communicate consistent messages. Top management should believe in what they are doing and try to make culture stabilization a management objective through various approaches including recrafting Identity, mission, and processes to facilitate change [48].

In relation to Business/IS Strategic Alignment, Abu-Samaha and Mansi show that many instances of system failure/under-utilization are due to negative implementation outcomes caused by cultural factors/pressures from within the organization, like the role of users in the implementation process, the extent of top-management support for the implementation process, the high levels of risk caused by system changes/implementations, the organizational and technical complexity in a project implementation and the adequacy of the system implementation process and its management[49].

2.6 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

The culture of Saudi Arabia is a rich one that has been shaped by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as an ancient trade center, and its Bedouin traditions. Saudi Arabia is considered a very high context culture, which means that the message people are trying to convey often relies heavily on other communicative cues such as body language and eye-contact rather than direct words. Saudi traditions are rooted in Islamic teachings and Arab customs, which Saudis learn about at an early age from their families and in schools. Arab traditions also play an important role in Saudi life. These age-old traditions have evolved over the millennia and are highly regarded. They include generosity and hospitality, which every Saudi family offers to strangers, friends, and family [50].

One of the most important features of the Saudi culture is the segregation of the sexes. Segregation, which means not permit women to mix with unrelated men. Also Shyness is another important characteristic that people should uphold. The other important feature in the Saudi culture is family ties, where Muslim is expected to keep contact with his relatives [51].

Respect and friendship are values that are held very highly by the Saudi people, business setting, favors based on mutual benefit and trust are ways of enhancing these cultural values. Due to the personal nature of business in Saudi Arabia, family influence and personal connections often take precedence over other governing factors [52].

Saudi Arabia is behind in the area of IT, which could be contributed to several factors including Computer illiteracy, lack of government incentives to attract businesses, the absence of adequate infrastructure to support industry, poor enforcement of intellectual property and copy right laws, and lack of resources [53].

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