Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 16 Number 2 1999 pp. 3-34

Editorial Introduction

Zwass, Vladimir


As you read the first of the papers in the special section on Strategic and Competitive Information Systems that opens this issue, you will see how a successful firm was able to shed its business model and radically transform the structure of its revenue stream. What for? To avoid disintermediation. The fact that the firm has for a number of years used information systems strategically was an enabler; the fact that the CEO's name is eponymous with that of the firm was probably critical. The threat of disintermediation of the current supply-chain participants and the insertion of new intermediaries are some of the effects of electronic commerce. Another effect is the creation of a great variety of electronic marketplaces. The other two papers in the Special Section show the transformation of, respectively, the futures and the securities markets as we move inexorably to electronic trading. The Guest Editors of the Special Section, Eric K. Clemons and Bruce W. Weber, tell you more about the contribution of those papers in their own introduction.

In the first paper of the general section, Kathy S. Lassila and James C. Brancheau apply the punctuated equilibrium perspective to the process of organizational appropriation of software packages. The authors identify empirically several possible equilibrium states in this process, only some of which are desirable, and describe the triggers that lead to state transitions. A successful implementation requires tracking of the new application to a high-payoff state. The readers will be rewarded by the suggestions offered here in this regard. Their thinking about the system implementation and utilization will also be expanded.

User acceptance of information systems is a vital aspect of their implementation and the Technology Acceptance Model is the lens through which many of us look at this acceptance today. There is a price to pay for the parsimony of this theory, and the authors of the next paper try to establish empirically at least a part of that price. Paul J. Hu, Patrick Y.K. Chau, Olivia R. Liu Sheng, and Kar Yan Tam examine the applicability of the model in the setting of acceptance by physicians of telemedicine technology. Although the authors do find the model applicable, they also find it in need of extension in order to raise the explanatory power, and offer several suggestions in this direction.

Even though most system development efforts today include prototyping, there is a dearth of empirical results regarding its contribution to system success. Bill C. Hardgrave, Rick L. Wilson, and Ken Eastman attempt to rectify this situation. In their survey-based exploratory study, these authors identify five variables that affect the success of systems developed with the use of prototyping. The authors propose an initial contingency model for the use of evolutionary or expendable (throw-away) prototyping. Interestingly, it does not include several variables that the vernacular (not based on research) would place there.

Using case studies, Han van der Zee and Berend de Jong investigate how Balanced Business Scorecard is and can be used to integrate the planning and implementation of business strategy with those of information technology. The scorecard helps the company go beyond the financial measures of its performance, which are by nature backward-looking, and develop performance measures based on such perspectives as organizational learning or individual business processes. The latter measures are indeed the indicators of future financial performance. The relative richness of the management method affords many points of contact with information technology and thus facilitates its integration into the overall business goal setting and tracking.

Raymond R. Panko empirically investigates the contributions of the individual and group code inspections to the testing of spreadsheets. His results indicate that the group effort produces no synergy and can be dropped. More alarmingly, the work concludes that the residual errors (that pass the inspection) make spreadsheets unsafe.

By using neural network forecasting models, Steven Walczak shows that emerging equity markets are less efficient than the established ones. He further shows how these models can be used to discover these inefficiencies and gain trading advantage. The point of this work is not, naturally, to be able to gain such advantage. It helps us, rather, to expand our knowledge about the predictive capabilities of neural networks and about the characteristics of capital markets.

We are delighted to welcome to our Editorial Board Professor Phillip Ein-Dor of Tel Aviv University.

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