European Journal of Information Systems

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 592–603

IS integration and knowledge sharing in multi-unit firms: the winner's curse

  • Nilesh Saraf
  • Chris Schlueter Langdon
  • Omar El Sawy
Research Article

DOI: 10.1057/ejis.2012.37

Cite this article as:
Saraf, N., Langdon, C. & Sawy, O. Eur J Inf Syst (2013) 22: 592. doi:10.1057/ejis.2012.37

Abstract

Knowledge sharing across business units (BUs) is paramount for enterprises that aim to exploit latent cross-BU synergies. This paper examines how information systems (ISs) integration and two forms of cross-BU knowledge complementarities (workflow interdependence and BU relatedness) affect an important dimension of a firm's absorptive capacity – cross-BU knowledge sharing. The analysis, performed on survey data from 75 enterprises, supports all of our hypotheses. First, we hypothesized that cross-BU workflow serves as a conduit for knowledge transfer as participants continually engage in spontaneous adaptations. Second, IS application integration and cross-BU relatedness should both directly contribute to knowledge sharing. Third, IS application integration should positively moderate the impacts of cross-BU relatedness. Finally, and most interestingly, we hypothesized a redistribution of the effects of IS integration by which it becomes a key contributor to knowledge sharing, but also causes a reduction in the impact of workflow interdependence. Thus, while the seamlessness of high IS application integration has obvious benefits, it paradoxically also reduces the occasions for cross-BU workflow adaptations, which is a key mechanism for knowledge transfer. That is the phenomenon we call the ‘winner's curse’.

Keywords

IS integration multi-unit firms knowledge sharing business unit interdependence workflow interdependence absorptive capacity 

Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nilesh Saraf
    • 1
  • Chris Schlueter Langdon
    • 2
  • Omar El Sawy
    • 2
  1. 1.Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Marshall School of Business, University of Southern CaliforniaCaliforniaU.S.A.

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