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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Advocating for Strategic it: Phenomenological Study of Nonprofit it Leaders
by Bunch, Trevor, D.I.T., Capella University, 2018, 189; 10746227
Abstract (Summary)

Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) lag behind their for-profit and public-sector peers in leveraging IT to satisfy a growing and diverse set of stakeholder expectations. NPO technical debt is attributed to a lack of in-house expertise and financial resources. Despite increasing isomorphic pressures, NPOs have not integrated IT into their organizational strategic planning processes. However, how NPO IT leaders advocate for mission-enhancing IT projects remains under-represented in the literature. This phenomenological study explores the life experiences of those NPO IT leaders as they propose and execute projects within a larger portfolio of competing demands. NPO IT leaders were interviewed from 21 international development and relief service organizations. A total of 56 project experiences were extracted to identify dominant stakeholder relationships, isomorphic requirements, and resource demands. Alternating rounds of interview transcript coding and epoché memos resulted in five representative project vignettes and two leading practice stories. There were four major findings. NPO IT leadership roles are rarely filled by dedicated IT professionals; NPO IT leaders are usually dual-hatted executives. As a result, IT is not integrated into organizational strategic planning processes; NPO IT leaders are often placed in passive and reactionary positions as opposed to ones of strong advocacy. They remain dependent on financial and expertise resources, which confirms that resource dependency theory influences IT strategy. The prominence of end-user requirements in the project experiences marks a shift from previous literature; normative expectations were twice as prevalent as coercive control of funding or legitimacy when driving strategic investments. Further research in NPO IT leadership characteristics (e.g., style, dual-hatted responsibilities, and sex) and the elusiveness of measuring mission-enhancing impact of IT projects should be conducted.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Borda, Owen
Commitee: Dell'Osso, Linda, Gregory, Elaine
School: Capella University
Department: School of Business and Technology
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Information Technology, Organization Theory
Keywords: Information technology, Institutional theory, Isomorphism, Nonprofit manangement, Resource dependency theory, Strategy
Publication Number: 10746227
ISBN: 978-0-355-68311-0
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