IT Governance Modes Choice: An Institutional Theory Perspective


  • Karim Ben Boubaker
  • Saida Harguem
  • Mari Nyrhinen


IT Governance, Institutional Theory, Framework Development, Case Study, Public Sector.


This study explains IT Governance modes’ choice in organizations using institutional theory. A conceptual framework is developed, and several propositions are presented. By adopting a  non-rational perspective, a case study is conducted in the Canadian public sector. The results show that the three different IT Governance modes - centralized, decentralized, and federal - meet the requirements of process and property variables and can thus be considered legitimized institutions. Also, institutional pressures are found to play an important role in determining the chosen IT Governance mode. Coercive pressures exerted by the organization's legal environment and by standards imposed by structures on which the organization is dependent have an impact on the IT Governance mode choice. Mimetic pressures caused by peers, professional associations, or competitors also played an important role in IT Governance mode choice. Finally, normative pressures caused by inter-organizational networks and similar educational backgrounds also influenced the IT Governance choice.


Agarwal, R. and V. Sambamurthy (2002). "Principles and Models for Organizing the IT Function." MIS Quarterly Executive Vo. 1, No 1, p. 1-16.

Ang, S. and L. L. Cummings (1997). "Strategic Response to Institutional Influences on Information Systems Outsourcing." Organization Science Vo. 8, No 3, p. 235-256.

Avgerou, C. (2000). "IT and Organizational Change: An Institutionalist Perspective." Information Technology & People Vo. 13, No 4, p. 234-262.

Barley, S. R. and P. S. Tolbert (1997). "Institutionalization and Structuration: Studying the Links between Action and Institution." Organization Studies Vo. 18, No 1, p. 93-117.

Boynton, A. C., G. C. Jacobs, et al. (1992). "Whose Responsibility Is IT Management?" Sloan Management Review Vo. 33, No 4, p. 32-38.

Boynton, A. C. and R. W. Zmud (1987). "Information Technology Planning in the 1990's: Directions for Practice and Research." MIS Quarterly Vo. 11, No 1, p. 59-71.

Bozan K., Bill Davey, Kevin Parker (2015). "Social Influence on Health IT Adoption Patterns of the Elderly: An Institutional Theory Based Use Behavior Approach", Procedia Computer Science, Vol 63, Pages 517-523.

Brown, C. V. (1997). "Examining the emergence of hybrid IS governance solutions: Evidence from a single case site." Information Systems Research Vo. 8, No 1, p. 69-.

Brown, C. V. and S. L. Magill (1994). "Alignment of the IS functions with the enterprise: Toward a model of antecedents." MIS Quarterly Vo. 18, No 4, p. 371.

Brown, C. V. and S. L. Magill (1998). "Reconceptualizing the Context-Design Issue for the Information Systems Function." Organization Science Vo. 9, No 2, p. 176.

Chatterjee, D., R. Grewal, et al. (2002). "Shaping up for e-commerce: Institutional Enablers of the Organizational Assimilation of Web Technologies." MIS Quarterly Vo. 26, No 2, p. 65-89.

Clark, C. E., N. C. Cavanaugh, et al. (1997). "Building change-readiness capabilities in the IS organization: Insights from the Bell Atlantic Experience." MIS Quarterly Vo. 21, No 4, p. 425-455.

Caluwe L. & Steven De Haes (2019) "Board Level IT Governance: A Scoping Review to Set the Research Agenda", Information Systems Management, 36:3, 262-283

Cross, J. and M. J. Earl (1997). "Transformation of the IT function at British Petroleum." MIS Quarterly Vo. 21, No 4, p. 401.

De Haes, S. and W. Van Grembergen (2008). Analysing the Relationship Between IT Governance and Business/IT Alignment Maturity 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

De Haes, S., & Van Grembergen, W. (2015). Enterprise governance of information technology: Springer.

DiMaggio, P. J. and W. W. Powell (1983). "The iron cage revisited institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields." American Sociological Review Vo. 48, No 2, p. 147-160.

Dixon, P. J. and D. A. John (1989). "Technology Issues Facing Corporate Management in the 1990s." MIS Quarterly Vo. 13, No 3, p. 246.

Doll, W. J. (1985). "Avenues for Top Management Involvement in Successful MIS Development." MIS Quarterly Vo. 9, No 1, p. 17.

Garrity, J. T. (1963). "Top management and computer profits." Harvard Business Review Vo. 41, No 4, p. 6-12, 172-174.

Gosain, S. (2004). "Enterprise Information Systems as Objects and Carriers of Institutional Forces: The New Iron Cage?" Journal of the Association for Information Systems Vo. 5, No 4 (Article 6), p. 151-182.

Gregory RW, E Kaganer, O Henfridsson, TJ Ruch (2018). "IT Consumerization and the Transformation of IT Governance", MIS Quarterly, Vol 42, No 4.

Henderson, J. C. and N. Venkatraman (1993). "Strategic alignment: Leveraging information technology for transforming organizations." IBM Systems Journal Vo. 32, No 1, p. 4-16.

IT-Governance Institute. (2003). "Board Briefing on IT Governance." 2. Retrieved 2th of April 2007.

Jacobson, D. D. (2009). Revisiting IT Governance in the Light of Institutional Theory. 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Hawaii.

Jarvenpaa, S. L. and B. Ives (1991). "Executive Involvement and Participation in the Management of Information Technology." MIS Quarterly Vo. 15, No 2, p. 205-227.

Jarvenpaa, S. L. and B. Ives (1991). "Executive involvement and participation in the management of information technology." MIS Quarterly Vo. 15, No 2, p. 205.

Jepperson, R. L. (1991). Institutions, Institutional effects, and Institutionalization. The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. W. W. Powell and P. J. DiMaggio. Chicago, University of Chicago Press: 143-163.

Khalifa, M. and R. M. Davison (2006). "SME Adoption of IT: The Case of Electronic Trading Systems." IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management Vo. 53, No 2, p. 275-284.

Loh, L. and N. Venkatraman (1992). "Diffusion of Information Technology outsourcing: Influence Sources and the Kodak Effect." Information Systems Research Vo. 3, No 4, p. 334-358.

McFarlan, F. W. and R. L. Nolan (1995). "How to Manage an IT Outsourcing Alliance." Sloan Management Review Vo. 36, No 2, p. 9-23.

Mingers, J. (2001). "Combining IS Research Methods: Towards a Pluralist Methodology." Information Systems Research Vo. 12, No 3, p. 240-259.

Nicolaou, A. I. (1999). "Social Control in Information Systems Development." Information Technology & People Vo. 1, No 2, p. 130-147.

Oliver, C. (1991). "Strategic Responses to Institutional Processes." Academy of Management Review Vo. 16, No 11, p. 145-179.

Peterson, R. (2004). "Crafting Information Technology Governance." Information Systems Management, Vo. 21, No 4, p. 7-22.

Pfeffer, J. and G. Salancik (1978). The external control of organizations: A resource dependence perspective. New York, Harper & Row.

Powell, W. W. (1990). Neither Market nor Hierarchy: Network Forms of Organization. Research in Organizational Behavior. B. Staw and L. Cummings. Greenwich, CT, JAI Press: 295-336.

Purvis, R. L., V. Sambamurthy, et al. (2001). "The Assimilation of Knowledge Platforms in Organizations: an Empirical Investigation." Organization Science Vo. 12, No 2, p. 117-135.

Sabherwal, R., R. Hirschheim, et al. (2001). "The Dynamics of Alignment: Insights from a Punctuated Equilibrium Model." Organization Science Vo. 12, No 2, p. 179-197.

Sambamurthy, V. and R. W. Zmud (1999). "Arrangements for Information Technology Governance: A Theory of Multiple Contingencies." MIS Quarterly Vo. 23, No 2, p. 261-290.

Sambamurthy, V. and R. W. Zmud (2000). "The Organizing Logic for an Enterprise's IT Activities in the Digital Era - A Prognosis of Practice and a Call for Research." Information Systems Research Vo. 11, No 2, p. 105-114.

Scott, R. W. (2001). " Institutions and Organizations." Sage Publications Vo., p. 255.

Swanson, E. B. and N. C. Ramiller (2004). "Innovating Mindfully with Information Technology." MIS Quarterly Vo. 28, No 4, p. 553-583.

Teo, H. H., K. K. Wei, et al. (2003). "Predicting Intention to Adopt Interorganizational Linkages: An Institutional Perspective." MIS Quarterly Vo. 27, No 1, p. 19-49.

Tillquist, J., J. L. King, et al. (2002). "A representational scheme for analyzing information technology and organizational dependency." MIS Quarterly Vo. 26, No 2, p. 91-118.

Tolbert, P. S. and L. G. Zucker (1996). The Institutionalization of Institutional Theory. Handbook of Organization Studies. S. Clegg, C. Hardy and W. R. Nord. London Thousand Oaks New Delhi, Sage Publications: 175-190.

Von Simson, E. M. (1990). "The 'Centrally Decentralized' IS Organization." Harvard Business Review Vo. 68, No 4, p. 158-162.

Weill, P. (2004). "Don’t Just Lead, Govern: How Top-Performing Firms Govern IT." MIS Quarterly Executive Vo. 8, No 1.

Weill, P. and M. Broadbent (1998). Leveraging the New Infrastructure: How Market Leaders Capitalize on Information Technology. Boston, Harvard University Press.

Weill, P. and M. H. Olson (1989). "An Assessment of the Contingency Theory of Management Information Systems." Journal of Management Information Systems Vo. 6, No 1, p. 59-85.

Weill, P. and J. Ross (2005). "A Matrixed Approach to Designing IT Governance." MIT Sloan Management Review Vo. 46, No 2, p. 26-34.

Weill, P. and J. W. Ross (2004). IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results. Boston, Harward Business School Press.

Willcocks, L., M. Lacity, et al. (2006). Information Technology Sourcing: Fifteen Years of Learning. London, London School of Economics and Political Science: 41.

Williamson, O. E. (1985). Economic institutions of capitalism. New York, Free Press.

Wu, Shelly Ping-Ju, et al. “How Information Technology Governance Mechanisms and Strategic Alignment Influence Organizational Performance: Insights from a Matched Survey of Business and IT Managers.” MIS Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 2, 2015, pp. 497–518.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Los Angeles, California, Sage Publications.

Zuo M., Dan Ma, Yan Yu (2020), "Contextual determinants of IT governance mechanism formulation for senior care services in local governments", International Journal of Information Management, Vol 53.




How to Cite

Ben Boubaker, K., Harguem, S., & Nyrhinen, M. . (2021). IT Governance Modes Choice: An Institutional Theory Perspective. International Journal of Management and Data Analytics, 1(1). Retrieved from



Regular Paper

Most read articles by the same author(s)