The Special Section that opens this issue of JMIS, Volume 22, no. 2, provides economic analyses of the deployment of information systems (IS) in firms’ competitive strategies. The great varieties of sourcing possibilities—including offshoring; strategic pricing in e-commerce; electronic market designs; and the influence of IS standards on the industry structure—all are the targets of the studies. The Guest Editors, Robert J. Kauffman, Eric K. Clemons, and Rajiv M. Dewan, introduce the papers to you in depth. It is quite apparent from this work that those who wish to believe IS of no strategic importance to the competing enterprises do that at peril to their firms.
In the first paper of the general section, Michael A. Chilton, Bill C. Hardgrave, and Deborah J. Armstrong study the performance of software developers as influenced by stress on the job. Continuing innovation in the IS software field is, of course, one of its primary characteristics. Some of that innovation even aims to relieve the cognitive stress of the practitioners. As we perceive, and as the authors argue, this stress is certainly unabating. The authors combine the theories of cognitive style and of person–environment fit to examine some reasons for this. They draw into our orbit an important body of literature from industrial psychology, which will serve us well in the future research in the domain. Practical suggestions for the IS managers emerge as well.
Using the media-richness and related communication theories, Alice M. Johnson and Albert L. Lederer study empirically the influence of the communications between the chief executive and the chief information officers on reaching the vitally necessary mutual understanding between them. In some aspects, the authors also determine the influence of this convergence of views on the contribution of the IS unit to the financial well-being of the organization. Based on the results, recommendations are offered for the executives’ communication modes.
The two concluding papers invite you to revisit the general theme of the Special Issue. Ganesh D. Bhatt and Varun Grover present an extensive typology of information technology (IT) capabilities from the vantage point of the seeking of competitive advantage by the owner firms. Organizational learning and the embeddedness of the IS unit in the firm’s business emerge as decisive corporate capabilities. The growth point of view is adopted by Sabyasachi Mitra in his study of the IT role in a firm. As operationalized by Mitra in his econometric research, IT infrastructure plays a central role in enabling the growth of firms in the future periods by lowering the costs of operations. There is a clear tension between these two studies. The concept of infrastructure is certainly due for a careful look. Good—the tension will prove creative in the future research.
The Editorial Board and I note with great sadness the untimely passing of Gerardine DeSanctis. One of the preeminent scholars in our discipline, she has contributed several papers to this journal and was an outstanding graduate of the university where I teach. Her memory will abide in her work, to be continued and built on by many of us.