When Information Technology Faces Resource Interaction : Using IT Tools to Handle Products at IKEA and Edsbyn
Sammanfattning: This thesis investigates the interplay between IT and the other resources in business networks. IT tools are important facilities that firms utilize in several managerial tasks. Two main issues are addressed: (1) how does IT affect the surrounding resources? and (2) how does the value of IT emerge in relation to these resources?Two case studies present how the firms IKEA and Edsbyn use IT tools in handling their products (IKEA’s table Lack and Edsbyn’s table El-Bord). 130 personal interviews and many visits to several firms offered a detailed picture of the resources, information, and IT tools in twelve managerial tasks (six per product). The effects and the value of IT emerge when IT interplays with the other resources (products, facilities, business units and relationships) that embed the IT facilities.The effects of IT on resources vary greatly across the twelve managerial tasks, grouped into two categories, exploitative and explorative. In exploitative tasks (aiming at static efficiency), the effects of IT are stronger, thanks to highly relevant IT-embedded models and to highly formalized information. Conversely, IT has restricted effects in explorative tasks, because IT is unable (1) to model non-given resources, (2) to handle network-embedded information, and (3) to steer non-linear development processes. However, IT stabilizes exploration by formalizing ex ante and freezing ex post resources.As for IT’s value, there exist no perfect IT tool in relation to the conflicting resources. Even downscaled IT systems become highly proficient tools if favourably embedded by other resources. The value of IT is more evident in exploitative tasks, where IT more easily models resources and digitalizes the needed information: IT structures resources and automates activities, as required for maintaining efficiency. In explorative tasks, instead, IT is a conservative force, because it focuses on established resource combinations, while neglecting wholly new ones.
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