IT Research Proposal





IT Research Proposal

Synergy in Information Systems


Synergy refers to the resultant effect realized by merging two agents with the aim of having a greater resultant effect than the sum of the individual effects of the merging agents. Technically, through synergism, one plus one equals three as opposed to two. Synergy in the information realm is an emerging research topic owing to the significant potential in understanding and calculating the business value of IT. Other fields such as healthcare, chemistry and biology have conducted in depth studies on the topic and in the process bringing about significant benefits on the respective fields.

However, the same is yet to be realized in the realm of information technology especially in the field of information systems. This can change if the field of IT intuitively merges the corporate field with the well-defined computer science field. The field of information systems only contains scanty and yet inconclusive research in information regarding the benefits of executing synergies in information systems. In particular, we find current research attempting to find out the analyzing the IT business value face this topic by relating computer science directly to the performance of the corporate firm.

This approach is neither reliable nor can it provide into conclusive results mainly due to its reductionism nature. This is because the approach tends to disregard the synergistic significances that are brought about by information technology. In addition, this approach tends to overlook the potential transitional variables between IT and the performance of corporate industries where business value tends to be dependant upon (Herbig, and Genestre, 1996).

It has been widely acknowledged that the combined benefits that arise from the combination, incorporation and utilization of IT and industrial organizational resources are not conclusively known by the present literature in information systems business value. Researchers are therefore encouraged to look into the analysis of cross-unit synergies in information systems since the field still lies ignorant of the present instruments that capture synergies that are IT related and are incorporated by business firms. Research in the realm of information systems indicates that synergies that result from the mergence of IT and corporate resources are not conclusively realized in the IT business value literature. This apparent lack of knowledge has the effect of underrating the business value of IT.

In view of this apparent gap, emerging studies in information studies attempt to look into synergy in Information Technology and how it influences performance of business entities. These studies indicate that the synergistic mergence of information systems and other business organizational resources can bring about the improved effectiveness and efficiency of business performance. This view is availed through a resource-based view’s (RBV) perception. As an illustration, a research conducted by Tanriverdi (2006), indicates that the synergy of information systems resulted into about two percent of the variance in the performance of business entities. This figure represents a good proportion in terms of economic value.

Another research that asserts this result is that conducted by Zhu (2004). The research adds that synergy through the mergence of IT and corporate organizational resources certainly bring about a value proposition that is based on the business’ performance. Due to the essential nature of synergy in information systems in realizing the business value of IT in addition to its emerging significance as a crucial research topic and because information systems synergy has not  been conclusively researched in terms of its significance and potential, it is therefore imperative that an insightful research on the subject matter is conducted.

The execution of such a research will bring about the inclusion of potential IT synergy construct into the corporate business resource value research framework. This will act as a transitional element and assist in the realization of additional variances in corporate performance that are brought about by factors closely knitted with IT.

Research Significance

Scholastic Significance

The inclusion of information systems synergy model into the research structure of IT business value forms one of the basic significance of the anticipated study. Although current studies regarding the research on the aspect of quantitative corporate value of IT seem to have taken a divergent direction from that of looking into the productivity inconsistency, the frailty of conjoining information systems leads directly to how a business entity performs. This has received much criticism because the reductionism approach fails to take into account the synergy that may result into enhanced corporate performance. In fact, the benefits of overall IT synergy have been utterly ignored by the existing It corporate entities value literature.

This scarceness of information regarding information synergy wile analyzing the corporate entity value of IT tends to underrate the significance of information synergy in the enhancement of the performance of business entities. Moreover, it realizes limitations concerning the potential transitional variables that exist between information systems and the performance of corporate firms and their outcomes through which business value is highly dependent.

Based on this, the involvement of the information system synergy into the corporate entity value research construct as a transitional element will bring about a more conclusive image in terms of the IS payoff in addition to supplementing the research construct. This adds to the need of increasing research efforts into the lacking connection between IS investment and the performance of business entities. This also conforms to Barua et al.’s (1995) transitional value proposition. With this regard, the intended study purposes to significantly decrease the present limitations of the business value of IS and assist in the illumination of additional variances in business entity performance that are realized by IS related aspects through the consideration of IS synergy (Berg, M. (1999).

The involvement of the IS synergy strategy model into the IT organizational value research construct necessitates the operational of the model. This operation is not reliant on a legitimate conceptualization of IS synergy. Currently, the present studies are now attempting to conceptualize the effects of IS synergy that are present between IT and other corporate resources. However, these are limited in terms of having a received definition of IS synergy. This is especially so in the context of IT corporate value research. In fact, the way the term synergy is conceptualized in the IS literature tend to be thrown around at the convenience of the researcher. This makes the term ambiguous and consequently unreliable.

This lack of a legitimate definition of IS synergy out rightly leads to inherent limitations in coming up with cumulative knowledge. Therefore, it is beneficial to initially conceptualize IS synergy. This is necessary if the IS literature for any relevance of consequent processes that include the investigation of the concept. This is primarily because effective conceptualizations form the foundation of science upon which further prepositions can be forwarded. Only after the full and definite conceptualization of IS synergy that those who intend to research on the topic can are able to account and override the limitations involved in the analysis of the performance resulting from IS on corporate business entities and further enabling the increase in comparable studies that lie within the same theoretical base.

In addition, a relevant conceptualization of the synergy of IS brings about legitimate and reasonable concept extensions and associations that tend to be critical in highlighting research boundaries, outlining possible historical experiences and moderators, in addition to the development of a structure or a nomological association for systematic and conclusive research. The nomological network comprises of possible historical experiences and knowledge and moderators pertaining to the synergy of IS. These make it possible to perform empirical analysis of the synergy of IS in addition to other related factors. This further provides deep knowledge regarding the underpinning resource framework through which strategies for proper execution and attainment of competitive advantage can be set up and supports the current research structure on the corporate value of IS.

With this in mind, the conceptualization synergy of IS enables the development of the research on the theoretical foundation for information systems that are particularly related to synergy. The tools for analyzing the synergy of IS founded on the conceptualization of synergy are one of the academic benefits of the intended study. The design of a relevant tool for the analysis of the synergy of IS forms a natural addition to the term since the characterization of synergy of IS insightfully and definitely outlines concept expansion and association.

The definition of concept expansion and association does not merely serve to indicate the properties upheld by IS synergy but also goes to the lengths of specifying the  category of items that are relevant and are identified by IS synergy. Although researches are urged to conduct more studies focusing on the analysis of cross-unit IS synergies, these are yet to be properly undertaken. With this regard, the development of an instrument will enable the answering of preceding calls and the fulfillment of the research limitation in addition to making it possible for studies conducted in the future to effectively analyze the synergy of IS in a way that is predominantly formal and systematic.

In summary, the inclusion of the synergy of IS framework in the current IT corporate research construct to provide pertinent information required the initial conceptualization of the synergy of IS. Secondly, the above needs to by set in operation. The conceptualization of the synergy of IS, the design of an instrument for the measurement of IS synergy can be associated with the performance of corporate business entities. This can be performed together with the inclusion of the IS synergy framework into the research construct of the IS business value and provide pertinent information on the way organizational factors influence the synergy of IS and how information systems synergy contributes to the overall performance of the business entity. The results of the research will further develop a foundation for future research regarding business strategies that result into efficiency in the allocation and utilization of resources for the production of optimal benefits that are synergistic in nature.

Practical Significance

The tool that is designed by the intended study for the analysis of IS synergy and the relational representatives and historical experiences provide a foundation for the development of a measuring tool or a score-card that enable business entities to analyze the level of synergy that exists between their IT and other recourses of the firm. The proper analysis of IS synergy brings about practical importance for the business entities since by measuring the synergy; it is possible for the administration to properly and effectively manage it.

Although the IS synergy is impossible to be conclusively managed, the ability of evaluating it enables the business entities to achieve invaluable information on the performance of its resource allocation and mergence and realize the altering ability of complementary resources. Here, the firms are able to realize the synergetic effect where a combination of two or more agents brings about a greater combined effect in comparison to the sum of their individual effects.

Furthermore, the measuring instrument for the benefits of resource allocation can be used as a tool for self-diagnostic. Its utilization will enable the business firms to analyze critical areas of their organizational structure that is important for enhancing and capturing synergy. This self-diagnostic tool enables the business firms to identify recourse allocations that tend to provide minimal benefits and later execute the relevant correctional measures. As an illustration, in using the measuring instrument, business entities are able to measure the competence of their information systems and their capabilities that are critical for the exploitation of the IS synergy. In fact, the capture of synergies is the overall ambition of large business firms and lies at the helm of corporate strategy (Eisenhardt and Galunic 2000).

In addition, the intended study goes to the lengths of providing business entities with the relevant knowledge pertaining to the appreciation of why and how some of these are limited in generating or capturing optimal IS synergy that comes about from the combinational utilization if instruments of information technology and the assets of the corporate firm. In particular, the IS synergy framework and its historical experiences including research can bring to light aspects that are crucial for consideration if the corporate entities are to realize IS synergy and representatives of IS synergy from enabling the enhancement of the performance of the business entity.

Finally, since the intended research goes to the lengths of bringing to light the advantages that can be realized when proper aspects information services and other organizational resources are merged together for enhanced combination, the business entities end up being more assured when obtaining and allocating recourses that posses the desired characteristics. As an illustration, business entities normally identify productive investments by taking into account and the analysis of financial indicators that include the return on investment (ROI) and others. However, when the prospective synergistic impacts are realized, business ventures that bear negative return on investment (ROI) or net present value (NPV) can still be considered for purchase since these may bear the relevant characteristics that are complementary to already acquired resources. The combination of these two resources has the potential of producing benefits that transcend financial justification (Bossen, 2002).

Research Questions

With this regard, the proposed research purposes to pursue conclusive answers to the following research questions.

  • What is the meaning of information systems synergy regarding corporate ventures?
  • What are the historical experiences and representatives that are associated with the production, capture and realization information system synergy?
  • How much variance is brought about by IS synergy in the performance by business entities?

Literature Review

The performance of literature review brings to light that IS synergy takes into account the synergies that are realized at the resource and process level in addition to the one that come about from the intra and inter organizational communications. First, Bharadwaj, (2000), finds that synergy is realized within the information technology recourses. This realization is inclusive of the company assets and capabilities. As an illustration, Meredith and Camm (1989), find that the synergies are produced when a company utilizes different manufacturing technologies that are perceptive when utilized in combination through the connecting together and the working off information sources that are common.

In addition, El-Najdawi and Stylianou (1993), find that the aspect of a decision support system (DSS) and an expert system (ES) having various similarities, they result into significant synergies that can be effectively reaped resulting in enhanced quality and effectiveness through the combination of these two systems. Further more, Jih et al. (2005), acknowledges on the ability of effecting electronic commerce efficiently. This results in the development of synergistic results. Zhu, (2004), attests that there exist synergies that enhance each other mutually are present when legacy information technology systems and Internet-based e-commerce capabilities are intricately combined together. This level contains synergies mainly manifest themselves in the form of minimized costs, enhanced quality and improved operating efficiency. The cost savings and other aspects such as enhanced efficiency are realized because of the association or the complementally aspect that is involved in the IT aspects (Clark, T. and Hermens, 2001).

Theoretical Basis and a Tentative Research Model

The intended research endeavors in the answering of the research questions through the implementation of the resource based view in combination with the relational view. The primary reason to this is that the resource-based view contains critical tools that are relevant in the analysis of synergies at the resource level. The adoption of the relational view makes it possible to come up with concise specification of association between the relevant resources.

Research Design

The proposed research attempts to acquire the sought research results through the incorporation of an approach that involves different methods. This approach tends to take into account a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. In essence, there are up to three particular stages whereby each of the stages is intended to develop varied but yet interrelated results.

The first stage is one regarding the conceptualization process of the synergy of information systems. This process utilizes the information technology construct and interconnects with the second stage whereby the conceptualization of the information system synergy can be developed. The third stage involves the empirical and quantitative analysis and testing of the information system synergy. This is approached on how it acts as a missing link between investment on information technology and the level of performance of the business entity. The first two stages by far follow on the construct production and development advance   as suggested by Churchill (1979).


            The main area where permission will have to be sought for is the corporate company. Permission to conduct the survey within the company will involve submission of a copy of the research proposal specifically underpinning the underlying benefits to both the company and the society in general realized from conducting the survey.


Stage one

Step 1: The specification of the field

Step 2: Authentication

Step 3: Purification

Stage Two

Step 1: Pretest

Step 2: Initial pilot test

Step 3: Display of the items

Stage Three

Step 1: Acquisition of data

Step 2: Location of the research

Step 3: Conducting survey

Step 4: The analysis of the collected data


The proposed study looks into the concept on information systems synergy through the development of a concise definition that illustrates the concept connotation and extension, analyzing the background research of information system synergy and empirically analyzing the IS synergy’s impact on the performance of business entities.



Clark, T. and Hermens, A. (2001). “Corporate developments and strategic alliances in e-learning”, Education + Training, Vol. 43 No. 4, pp. 256-67.

Barua, A., Kriebel, C.H., and Mukhopadhyay, T. “Information Techologies and Business Value: An Analytic and Empirical Investigation,” Information Systems Research (6:1), 1995, pp. 3-23.

Berg, M. (1999). Accumulating and Coordinating: Occasions for Information Technologies in Medical Work. In Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8(4), pp. 373-401.

Bharadwaj, A.S. “A Resource-Based Perspective on Information Technology Capability and Firm Performance: An Empirical Investigation,” MIS Quarterly (24:1), 2000, pp. 69-196.

Bossen, C. (2002). The Parameters of Common Information Spaces: the Heterogeneity of Cooperative Work at a Hospital Ward. In Proceedings of the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 176-185.

Eisenhardt, K.M., and Galunic, D.C. “Coevolving: At Last, A Way to Make Synergies Work,” Harvard Business Review (78:1), 2000, pp. 91-101.

Herbig, P. and Genestre, A. (1996). “An Experiment of Cross-cultural Differences in Service Quality”, Journal of Consumer Marketing. Vol. 13. No. 2, pp. 31-42.

Tanriverdi, H. “Information Technology Relatedness, Knowledge Management Capability, and performance of Multibusiness Firms,” MIS Quarterly (29:2), 2005, pp. 311-334.

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