Alignment in an inter-organisational network: the case of ARC transistance

Bernhard R Katzy, Gordon Sung, Kevin Crowston
  • European Journal of Information Systems, May 2016, Nature Publishing Group
  • DOI: 10.1057/ejis.2016.9

Alignment in an inter-organisational network

What is it about?

Alignment of systems to strategy is a long standing concern in the field of information systems. This study of a network of European auto clubs (comparable to AAA in the US) analyzes the problems of achieving alignment in a network setting, where the alignment must account for network members with different strategies. The paper describes the difficulties encountered during the development of a system to link across multiple clubs. From this experience, the paper develops a new kind of alignment, labelled "accordance", referring to the fit between the network strategy and systems and the strategies and systems of the different network members. A particular finding of the case is that system and strategies can be designed to be complementary rather than fully-aligned, in order to accommodate the diversity of network members.

Why is it important?

Networks of cooperating organizations are becoming more common and information systems are seen as a key enabler of this form. However, the issues of achieving alignment between systems and strategies are complicated in a setting with multiple diverse strategies. The paper provides a framework for conceptualizing different forms of alignment. The history of the case further suggests a technical approach for accommodating diverse strategies by careful selection of functions that are standardized in the network.


Kevin Crowston (Author)
Syracuse University

This paper was the result of more than a decade of revision and rethinking to identify the novel finding in the paper. It was hard at time to maintain momentum, but we believed that there was something interesting in the setting, if only we could express it clearly. I deeply regret though that Bernhard (the lead author) did not get to see the paper in print. A self-archived version of the paper will be available after a 12-month embargo.

The following have contributed to this page: Kevin Crowston