Communications of the IIMA


Information technology (IT) is a key enabler of modern small businesses, yet fostering reliably effective IT systems remains a significant challenge. This paper presents a light weight IT effectiveness model for small businesses to assess their IT and formulate strategies for improvement. Employing an action research approach we investigate a mixed method analysis of 120 survey responses from small family businesses and user participation in 10 semi-structured interviews. We then conduct critical reflection to identify refinements which are validated using 72 survey responses from university students. The results present compelling evidence that employees’ normative patterns (norms) are a significant driver of IT effectiveness in a second order PLS predictive model able to explain 26% of observed variance. A norms-based approach to IT effectiveness helps fill a significant research and managerial gap for organizations unable or unwilling to adopt IT best practice frameworks used by large organizations. Our findings imply that comparing norms to IT best practices may offer a less technical approach to assessing IT operations, which may be well suited to small businesses. Although further investigation cycles are needed to systematically test this model, we encourage small business managers to: 1) anticipate IT risks and mitigate them; 2) identify measures of IT performance, and monitor them, and 3) review/synchronize business and IT goals.