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Inter-organisational Information Systems as Enablers of Organisational Flexibility

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Many organisations seek flexibility, but its attainment is fraught with problems. Research argues that information systems (IS) can provide flexibility. This paper explores the relationship between one type of IS, inter-organisational systems (IOS) and flexibility. The first element of the research demonstrates that organisations do obtain flexibility from using IOS. In particular, IOS improve efficiency, responsiveness, versatility and robustness. Subsequently the research finds some support for the proposition that the technologies used for IOS provide flexibility. Certain organisational characteristics have a positive relationship with flexibility from IOS. These include (i) adopting IOS for offensive competitive reasons, (ii) integrating IOS planning with IS planning, (Hi) integrating IOS planning with business planning, (iv) initiating adoption of IOS, (v) integrating IOS with internal IS software, (vi) possessing superior internal IT expertise, (vii) operating in a competitive environment and (viii) longevity of IOS use. The implications of these findings for managers and researchers are discussed.

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