Associate Professor, ITM
Director of the Center for IT and the Global Economy
Kogod School of Business, American University
April 27, 2012
Speakman Hall 200, 1000am – 1130am
Seminar Title : Balancing Rigor, Standardization, and Agility in Distributed IS Development: An Ambidexterity Perspective
Distributed information systems (IS) development faces daunting challenges including communication and coordination difficulties, increased user requirement uncertainty, and greater task complexity. To cope with such challenges, distributed IS teams attempt to build effective development process capabilities such as process rigor, process standardization, and process agility. However, the complex effects of these process capabilities on distributed IS development performance are not well understood or empirically validated. To fill this gap in our knowledge, we investigate how rigor, standardization, and agility of development process respectively affect the performance of the system delivered by a distributed team. Furthermore and more importantly, we investigate the notion of IS development process ambidexterity which is defined as the simultaneous presence of alignment and agility in development process, where rigor and standardization represent two dimensions of alignment. We examine if such process ambidexterity demonstrates a positive effect on system performance. We used hierarchical regression to analyze field data from project managers of distributed IS development. Our results support a positive main effect of rigor, standardization, and agility on system performance in distributed development. We find a positive interaction effect of rigor and agility, indicating a synergistic effect of process ambidexterity. Contrary to our expectation, however, we find a negative interaction effect of standardization and agility, indicating an offsetting effect of process ambidexterity. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for balancing rigor, standardization, and agility in distributed development in order to achieve better system performance.