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Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Increasingly, companies use interorganizational information systems to support business process partnerships, such as automatic replenishment systems and other supply chain initiatives, invoicing and payments, and insurance claims processing. Inter-firm networking in turn can increase the visibility of information generated and used by business partners. These business partners may experience intended and unintended impacts from the changes in the partnering relationship, in effect altering the ecology of the organization. Yet IT researchers rarely study an organization’s ecology, focusing instead on impacts upon internal processes. Our goal in this paper is to propose a definition of interorganizational information ecology, to provide IT researchers with a lens through which interorganizational information sharing should be studied. We begin by reviewing principles of ecology from the natural and social sciences and then discuss the emergence of principles of organizational ecology and information ecology within the management literature. We then argue that advances in information technology have been a primary enabler for companies’ focus on interorganizational business processes and that field research on IT-enabled business partnerships must include the impacts upon each partner and the information shared among them. An example from health care demonstrates the usefulness of the concept, and we conclude with suggestions for field-based research on the ecology of interorganizational information sharing.