Organisations deploy information systems (IS) with the exclusive intention to pursue their business objectives. Executive managers assign ownership of IS to business leaders, expecting them to leverage the IS towards achieving the objectives of the business areas. Many business leaders are reluctant to take ownership of the IS in their business areas, placing the organisation at risk that IS may not be optimally utilised and that business areas may not achieve their objectives. Little guidance exists to assist organisations and business leaders to understand what “taking ownership of IS” entails.
This phenomenological study focuses on the experiences of staff members with respect to IS ownership to acquire an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of IS ownership in a financial services organisation. The study develops a framework for understanding IS ownership through a process of induction.
The study views the relationship between IS ownership role-players through the lens of social exchange theory, with the relationship between IS ownership role-players as a focus area of IS ownership. In social exchange theory, the success of the relationship is based on reciprocity. The IS ownership framework discusses the different perspectives of the role-players with respect to defining IS ownership, understanding why IS ownership is required, the criteria for having ownership, the rights, the obligations and the expectations associated with IS ownership.
The framework comprises the construct and the institutionalisation and application of IS ownership. The construct of IS ownership clarifies what IS ownership entails, what the rationale is for IS ownership and where IS ownership should reside. The institutionalisation and application of IS ownership explains the governance and management processes requiring that all assets, including IS, should have owners and that IS ownership should be assigned to identified individuals. Management of the resources to enable the successful application of IS in the organisation is needed to utilise IS ownership as a strategic resource in the organisation.
The framework offers an understanding of IS ownership and promotes IS ownership as a resource in the organisation to enhance the possibility of optimally leveraging the IS in the business areas in pursuit of their business objectives.