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Information technology, contextual factors and the volatility of firm performance
This study uses previous theory developed in the IT implementation literature and the information processing view of the firm to empirically investigate the impact of IT investments and several contextual variables on the volatility of future earnings. We useInformationWeek 500 data on IT spending from 1992–1997 to find evidence that IT investments increase the volatility of future earnings but that this impact is highly contingent upon three firm level contextual factors — sales growth, unrelated diversification, and size. These factors can lead to conditions in which IT increases or reduces earnings volatility. Taken together, these results may help explain what has recently been termed the “new productivity paradox,” i.e., the apparent under-investment in information technology despite evidence of highly positive returns for doing so, and suggests settings where managers may be under- or over-discounting returns on IT investments.