Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

The Mobile Agility Framework: An Exploratory Study of Mobile Technology Enhancing Organizational Agility

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

The Mobile Agility Framework: An Exploratory Study of Mobile Technology Enhancing Organizational Agility

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

A turbulent, unpredictable, interconnected, fragile and increasingly global business environment is a defining characteristic of today's economic and social landscape [6], [11], [38], [40]. To survive and prosper in this environment, managers must turn to new strategies and managerial approaches [10]. One such strategy that was developed in response to the turbulent business environment is agility. Being agile can help organizations respond to challenges and opportunities in a timely manner [28] and improve organizational performance [39]. But to reach a desirable level of agility, one needs to understand the mechanisms of agility at work.

Often, people have an intuitive understanding of the term agility and the potential benefits of being agile. A literature search on the keyword agile returns a plethora of text from such areas as manufacturing, supply chain management, business strategy, military strategy, and even martial arts. In the field of Information Systems (IS) there are also some studies that theorize on how information technology (IT) can serve as an enabler of organizational agility [11], [15], [37], [39], [41]. But these works consider IT as an amorphous and all-encompassing entity and do not focus on specific types of IT that can contribute to agility. Yet an executive responsible for formulating and implementing organizational strategies needs exactly that- a focused set of recommendations on how a particular type of IT can be used to enable organizational agility.

Mobile technologies possess unique characteristics that can make them a valuable platform for building organizational agility. Moreover, devices and information systems using the capabilities of mobile technologies are becoming commonplace in organizations as employees are increasingly equipped with smartphones and mobile computers. Not only within the physical boundaries of an office but also when traveling, employees are able to wirelessly connect to a firm's network and stay informed and productive. Unique characteristics as well as their everincreasing adoption can make mobile technologies an important driver of organizational agility. Thus, the main goal of this study is to explore various ways in which mobile technologies can be used as an enabler of organizational agility. Since there is a lack of prior theorizing with respect to mobile technologies as part of an agility-centered, ITenabled strategic initiative, we use an exploratory research approach that employs multiple archival case studies to explore the question of how and why mobile technologies can enable organizational agility.

The rest of this paper is structured as follows. First, we review the concept of agility from the perspective of various business disciplines. After that, we focus on the perspective of agility within the IS discipline. More specifically, we review a framework proposed by Sambamurthy et al. [37] and use it as a conceptual foundation for explaining how IT can enable organizational agility. We argue that mobile technologies, as a subset of IT, possess unique characteristics that make them valuable for enabling organizational agility [9]. Based on this theoretical discussion, we develop a mobile agility framework that is based on the agility framework in [37] and the Junglas and Watson [15] u-construct framework. Using this new framework as our guiding lens, we examine and analyze archival data of 89 case studies in the area of mobile technology implementation. These cases are classified in appropriate dimensions of the mobile agility framework proposed by this study. We believe that the framework that we develop in this study as well as the specific examples of the use of mobile technology for enhancing agility can guide executives on formulating and implementing mobility-based strategies and provide tactics for improving organizational agility. Moreover, based on the content of the cases as well as existing literature on developments related to mobile technology, we formulate research questions that can extend our understanding of the role mobile technology can play in enabling organizational agility. …

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