Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Top Management Support, Collective Mindfulness, and Information Systems Performance

Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Top Management Support, Collective Mindfulness, and Information Systems Performance

Article excerpt


Greater top management support for information systems results in better design, use, and management of such systems, and thus in improved organizational performance. Considerable research has therefore been conducted concerning the impact of top management support on the contribution of information systems to performance (Choe, 1996; Igbaria et al., 1995; Jarvenpaa and Ives, 1991; Ragu-Nathan et al., 2004; Sabherwal et al., 2006). For example, continuous involvement from top management has been shown to resolve problems when crises and conflicts arise in uncertain environments (Pinto & Slevin, 1987).

However, little is known about how the cognitive processes of a supportive top management facilitate performance (Meindl et al., 1994). Recently, the concept of mindfulness has been introduced to IS research to help explain innovation and the achievement of information systems reliability in organizations (Swanson & Ramiller, 2004; Butler & Gray, 2006). Mindfulness is a cognitive process that facilitates the discovery and correction of errors that might escalate (Weick et al., 1999).

Swanson and Ramiller (2004) call for an examination of top management support in the mindfulness context and remark that strategic mindfulness is needed to deal with the disruptive effects of IT initiatives. Such mindfulness includes a concern for the firm's long-term viability, and thus is the responsibility of top management. Without mindfulness, the use of such resources as money and people might not be sufficient to permit the new IT to be successfully implemented and adopted.

The purpose of this study is to apply mindfulness theory to understand how top management support can enhance IS performance. The study tests the effect of top management support (i.e., top management understanding and involvement) on the collective mindfulness of top management (i.e., attentiveness to five specific factors described below), and the effect of such mindfulness on IS performance.

The next sections explain the constructs, define hypotheses, and elucidate the methodology and analysis. After a discussion of the findings, implications for research and practice follow.


The research model contains five constructs: top management support; collective mindfulness comprising five dimensions of preoccupation with IS failure, reluctance to simplify IS, sensitivity to IS operations; commitment to IS resilience and deference to IS expertise; and IS performance. The model appears in Figure 1.


Top management support is the degree to which senior executives understand the importance of the IS function and are involved in IS activities (Ragu-Nathan et al., 2004). Under such circumstances, the executives are interested in the IS function and encourage operating units to collaborate with information systems professionals (Boynton et al., 1992). The executives consider such systems as a strategic resource and understand the opportunities offered by them (Clemons et al., 2009).

Research has considered the impact of top management support. It has shown, for example, such support to be a critical success factor for IS disaster recovery planning (Chow & Ha, 2009) and for successful alignment of IS plans with business plans (Teo & Ang, 1999). Top management support leads to the improved quality of shared information in interorganizational systems usage (Hartono et al., 2010), and to successful software process improvement (Ngwenyama & N0rbjerg, 2010). Top management support influences both perceived ERP system usefulness and usage (Lin, 2010), leads to successful SAP and business process management systems implementation (Becerra-Fernandez at al., 2005; Ravesteyn & Batenburg, 2010), and is a characteristic of successful e-commerce (Epstein, 2005). At the same time, lack of top management support leads to failed projects and lost opportunities (Andriole, 2009). …

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