REGENTS’ PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA
ROBINSON CHAIR, IT-ENABLED SUPPLY CHAINS & PROCESS INNOVATION
HARKINS CHAIR OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
REGENTS’ PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA
ROBINSON CHAIR, IT-ENABLED SUPPLY CHAINS & PROCESS INNOVATION
HARKINS CHAIR OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Arun Rai is permanent Regents' Professor at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and holds the J. Mack Robinson Chair of IT-Enabled Process Innovation and Supply Chains and the Harkins Chair of Information Systems.
Co-founded the Robinson College of Business Center for Process Innovation, an interdisciplinary research center that focuses on digital innovation and promotes industry-university partnerships .
Appointed Regents' Professor in 2006 by the Board of Regents' of the University System of Georgia for outstanding contributions in research, teaching and service, and has received Robinson College of Business Faculty Recognition Awards for distinguished contributions in research, teaching and service.
Fellow of the Association for Information Systems and Distinguished Fellow of the INFORMS Information Systems Society.
Serves as Editor-in-Chief for the MIS Quarterly. Has served as Senior Editor for Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, and Journal of Strategic Information Systems and has also served as Associate Editor for journals such as Management Science.
Serves on the Board of Directors of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals and Apollo Health & Lifestyle Limited. Has collaborated on research projects with major corporations across sectors (e.g., Apollo Hospitals, China Mobile, Daimler-Chrysler, Emory Healthcare, Gartner, Georgia-Pacific, Grady Hospital, IBM, Intel, Laureate Inc., SAP, SunTrust, United Parcel Service).
As organizations increasingly use digital platforms to facilitate innovation, researchers are seeking to understand how platforms shape business practices. Although extant literature offers important insights into platform management from a platform-owner perspective, we know little about how organizations manage industry platforms provided by external parties to generate opportunities and overcome challenges in relation to their infrastructure and work processes. As part of larger ecosystems, these digital platforms offer organizations bundles of digital options that they can selectively invest in over time. At the same time, organizations’ previous investments in digital infrastructure and work processes produce a legacy of digital debt that conditions how they manage their digital platforms over time. Against this backdrop, we investigate how digital options and digital debt were implicated in a large Scandinavian media organization’s management of a news production platform over nearly 17 years. Drawing on extant literature and the findings from this case, we theorize the progression of and interactions between digital options and digital debt during an organization’s digital platform management in relation to its infrastructure and work processes. The theory reveals the complex choices that organizations face in such efforts: While they may have to resolve digital debt to make a platform’s digital options actionable, hesitancy to plant digital debt may equally well prevent them from realizing otherwise attractive digital options. Similarly, while identified digital options may offer organizations new opportunities to resolve digital debt, eagerness to realize digital options may just as easily lead to unwise planting of digital debt.
Research on various distributed online information systems—including blogging, crowdsourcing, media sharing, online communities, online reviews, open source software development, social media, wikis, peer-to-peer file sharing, and two-sided electronic markets—shows that the level of user engagement and overall activity in most systems eventually decline substantially. Here, we draw on Hardin’s theory of the tragedy of the commons and Ostrom’s theory of polycentric governance to introduce a unifying theory of polycentric information commons that explains these phenomena. Further, our theory illuminates how polycentric governance principles, as manifested in system rules and infrastructure features, counterbalance various sustainability threats arising from unrestricted participation. By integrating previous research findings and offering new insights into information and governance practices, the theory, practically applied, can enhance the likelihood of sustained participation across diverse, decentralized online information systems. We conclude by discussing how researchers can use the theory in empirical investigations and how they can engage in theoretical elaborations.
Firm participation in open source software (OSS) development is a noteworthy phenomenon and includes two types of firm-participating OSS projects: community founded (developed from an open project) and spinout (spun out from an information technology firm’s internal project). OSS project leaders implement quality controls to improve the quality of developed products. They may not be aware that their implementation of quality controls produces a side effect—quality controls signal unobservable project quality to volunteers and promote volunteers’ continued participation intentions (VCPI).We focus on two quality controls—accreditation and code acceptance, which, respectively, map to the input and output quality of an OSS project—and compare their respective effects on VCPI in community-founded and spinout projects.We propose that accreditation and code acceptance influence VCPI by signaling unobservable input and output quality to volunteers. As we focus on continued participation, we theorize as to how volunteers’ tenure in OSS projects moderates the relationships between the signaling effects of input and output quality controls and VCPI. Furthermore, we theorize as to how the OSS project type moderates the effects of quality controls on VCPI. We surveyed 304 volunteers from 40 OSS projects and constructed a two-level model of project and developer factors to explain VCPI. Our findings indicate that both accreditation and code acceptance enhance VCPI. The signaling effects on VCPI associated with accreditation decline with volunteer tenure, but those associated with code acceptance do not. Accreditation and code acceptance influence VCPI, with community-founded projects exhibitingweaker direct positive effects and spinout projects exhibiting stronger direct positive effects. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
In the context of software platforms, we examine how cross-side network effects (CNEs) on different platform sides (app-side and user-side) are temporally asymmetric, and how these CNEs are influenced by the platform’s governance policies. Informed by a perspective of value creation and capture, we theorize how the app-side and the user-side react to each other with distinct value creation/capture processes, and how these processes are influenced by the platform’s governance policies on app review and platform updates. We use a time-series analysis to empirically investigate the platform ecosystem of a leading web browser. Our findings suggest that while the growth in platform usage results in long-term growth in both the number and variety of apps, the growth in the number of apps and the variety of apps only leads to short-term growth in platform usage. We also find that long app review time weakens the long-term CNE of the user-side on the app-side, but not the short-term CNE of the app-side on the user-side. Moreover, we find that frequent platform updates weaken the CNEs of both the user-side and the app-side on each other. These findings generate important implications regarding how a software platform may better govern its ecosystem with different participants.
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals listed high infant mortality rates as a major problem in developing countries, especially in rural areas. Given their powerful information dissemination capabilities, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been suggested as interventions to build infant care awareness and modify healthcare behaviors. We examine how the use of one ICT intervention—eHealth kiosks disseminating authenticated and accessible medical information—can alleviate the problem of high infant mortality in rural India. We investigate how mothers’ social networks affect th eir use of eHealth kiosks, specifically in seeking professional medical care for their infants and, ultimately, the effect on infant mortality . Drawing on the social epidemiology and the social network literatures, we focus on advice and hindrance from both strong and weak ties as the conduit of social influence on mothers’ health-related behaviors for the care of their infants. Over a period of 7 years, we studied 4,620 infants across 10 villages where the eHealth kiosks were implemented along with support resources for proxy use. The results revealed that (1) eHealth kiosk use promotes seeking professional medical care and reduces infant mortality, (2) mothers are especially vulnerable to hindrance from both strong and weak ties as they choose to maintain the status quo of traditional infant healthcare practices (e.g., reliance on untrained personnel, superstitions, fatalism) in villages, and (3) advice from both strong and weak ties offers the potential to break down misplaced beliefs about infant healthcare practices and to develop literacy on seeking professional medical care. In contrast, in a comparative group of 10 neighboring villages, the reduction in infant mortality was not as pronounced and the effect of professional medical care in reducing infant mortality was lower. Our findings suggest that an ICT intervention can effectively address one of society’s most important problems—infant mortality—even in parts of the world with limited resources and deep suspicion of technology and change. Overall, we believe such an ICT intervention will complement other investments being made including the facilitation of use (proxy use) and provision of professional medical facilities to reduce infant mortality.
Recent work has shown that a firm’s plural sourcing strategy, which determines how much it chooses to make versus how much it chooses to buy, requires consideration of the complementarities and constraints that affect the differential advantages of making and buying. Elaborating on this perspective, we theorize how (mis)fit between a firm’s plural sourcing strategy of simultaneously making and buying and its development of information technology (IT) enabled interfirm and intrafirm process integration capabilities influences firm performance in deregulated markets. We position our theory development and empirical tests in the context of the power-generation segment of the U.S. electric utility industry (EUI), an asset-intensive industry that has been deregulated to promote the separation of key value chain activities (i.e., generation, transmission, and distribution) and the development of wholesale energy markets. We draw on the transaction cost economics, coordination costs, and IT capabilities perspectives to theorize that a firm achieves fit (realizing performance benefits) by increasing market sourcing intensity (MSI)—or, how much it buys relative to how much it makes— and developing IT-enabled interfirm process integration capability for external coordination with the market, or misfit (realizing performance penalties) by increasing MSI and developing IT-enabled intrafirm process integration capability for coordinating internal production. We collated data from archival sources for 342 utility firms in the power-generation segment to construct a panel dataset for the period 1994–2004 on (1) firms’ MSI from wholesale electricity markets, (2) firms’ IT investment decisions to develop interfirm and intrafirm process integration capabilities, (3) measures of firm performance, and (4) several control variables related to exogenous shocks (i.e., regulatory change, oil crisis), region of operation, and firm-level factors. Our results suggest that fit between MSI and the development of IT-enabled interfirm process integration capability improves firm profitability, assessed by return on assets, and misfit between MSI and the development of IT-enabled intrafirm process integration capability extracts penalties in firm profitability. We also find evidence that fit between MSI and the development of IT-enabled interfirm process integration capability improves market valuation, assessed by Tobin’s Q, and asset turnover, assessed by operating revenue/total assets. We discuss the implications of our findings for the development of IT capabilities to accompany a firm’s plural sourcing strategy and the literature on IT business value.
Contextual ambidexterity of an interorganizational relationship (IOR) is the ability of its management system to align partners' activities and resources for short-term goals and adapt partners' cognitions and actions for long-term viability. It is an alternative to structural ambidexterity in which separate units of the IOR pursue short- and long-term goals. We theorize that when utilized to coordinate the IOR, information technology (IT)-enabled operations and sensemaking, along with interdependent decision making, promote the IOR's contextual ambidexterity. We test our hypotheses on both sides of a customer-vendor relationship using data collected from (1) the account executives of one of the world's largest supply chain vendors (n = 76) and (2) its customers (n = 238). We find commonalities and differences in the influence coordination mechanisms have on contextual ambidexterity from the vendor's and the customer's perspectives. For both customers and vendors, contextual ambidexterity improves the quality and performance of the relationship, and decision interdependence promotes contextual ambidexterity. For customers, using operations support systems (OSSs) and interpretation support systems (ISSs) enhances contextual ambidexterity. For vendors, the impact of both OSS use and ISS use on contextual ambidexterity depends on the duration of the relationship. Our study shows that IT-enabled operations and sensemaking are key enablers of IOR ambidexterity and that vendors should combine these IT capabilities with relationship-specific knowledge that accumulates with relationship duration.
There is growing recognition that firms' information technology (IT)-enabled business models (i.e., how interfirm transactions with suppliers, customers, and partners are structured and executed) are a distinctive source of value creation and appropriation. However, the concept of business models' (BMs) “IT enablement” remains coarse in the information systems and strategic management literatures. Our objectives are to introduce a framework to elaborate the concept of IT-enabled BMs and to identify areas for future research that will enhance our understanding of the subject. We introduce the idea that two business-to-business (B2B) IT capabilities—dyadic IT customization and network IT standardization—are the mediating execution mechanisms between the strategic intent of interfirm collaboration and the (re)configuration of BMs to both create and appropriate value. We develop the logic that B2B IT capabilities for BM (re)configuration operate at two levels—IT customization at the dyadic relationship level and IT standardization at the interfirm network level—that together provide the complementary IT capabilities for firms to exchange content, govern relationships, and structure interconnections between products and processes with a diverse set of customers, suppliers, and partners. We discuss how these two complementary B2B IT capabilities are pivotal for firms to pursue different sources of value creation and appropriation. We identify how a firm's governance choices to engage in interfirm collaboration and its interfirm networks coevolve with its B2B IT capabilities as fruitful areas for future research.
A large proportion of information systems research is concerned with developing and testing models pertaining to complex cognition, behaviors, and outcomes of individuals, teams, organizations, and other social systems that are involved in the development, implementation, and utilization of information technology. Given the complexity of these social and behavioral phenomena, heterogeneity is likely to exist in the samples used in IS studies. While researchers now routinely address observed heterogeneity by introducing moderators, a priori groupings, and contextual factors in their research models, they have not examined how unobserved heterogeneity may affect their findings. We describe why unobserved heterogeneity threatens different types of validity and use simulations to demonstrate that unobserved heterogeneity biases parameter estimates, thereby leading to Type I and Type II errors. We also review different methods that can be used to uncover unobserved heterogeneity in structural equation models. While methods to uncover unobserved heterogeneity in covariance-based structural equation models (CB-SEM) are relatively advanced, the methods for partial least squares (PLS) path models are limited and have relied on an extension of mixture regression—finite mixture partial least squares (FIMIX-PLS) and distance measure-based methods—that have mismatches with some characteristics of PLS path modeling. We propose a new method—prediction-oriented segmentation (PLS-POS)—to overcome the limitations of FIMIX-PLS and other distance measure-based methods and conduct extensive simulations to evaluate the ability of PLS-POS and FIMIX-PLS to discover unobserved heterogeneity in both structural and measurement models. Our results show that both PLS-POS and FIMIX-PLS perform well in discovering unobserved heterogeneity in structural paths when the measures are reflective and that PLS-POS also performs well in discovering unobserved heterogeneity in formative measures. We propose an unobserved heterogeneity discovery (UHD) process that researchers can apply to (1) avert validity threats by uncovering unobserved heterogeneity and (2) elaborate on theory by turning unobserved heterogeneity into observed heterogeneity, thereby expanding theory through the integration of new moderator or contextual variables.
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Proactively Managing the Early Stages of an IS Academic Career: Keynote at the ICIS Junior Faculty Consortium in Seoul, Korea, December 2017.
Workshops: MIS Quarterly Reviewer Development Workshop, Seoul, Korea, December 2017; MIS Quarterly Author Workshop, Boston, August 2017; MIS Quarterly Reviewer Development Workshop, Dublin, Ireland, December 2016; Theory Development, Ljubljana, Slovenia, July 2017.
Achieving Big Data – Theory Synergies Through Research Design and Methods - Keynote at Summer Workshop on Big Data and Analytics, Harbin, China, July 2017.
Jessica Pye (dissertation chair Arun Rai), successfully defended her dissertation on Dec 5 2017. Jessica's dissertation focused on the value of digital innovation in the electric utility and healthcare industries. Jessica is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Information Systems at the W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.
MIS Academic Leadership Conference - Over 100 department chairs, dens, and others in IS leadership positions attended the conference hosted by GSU, Nov 2016. Arun Rai and Dean Richard Philips introducing GSU President Mark Becker.
Reducing Capital Market Anomaly: The Role of Information Technology Using an Information Uncertainty Lens (work with Ning Jia and Sean Xin Xu) - Colloquia at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, June 2017; Queensland University of Technology, June 2017.
Social Learning in Information Technology Investment: The Role of Board Interlocks (work with June Cheng, Fian Teng, Sean Xin Xu) -Colloquia at Purdue University, September 2017; Memorial University of New Foundland, September 2017.
Avoiding Type III Errors: Formulating IS Research Problems that Matter - Keynotes at IS Summer Workshop, City University of Hong Kong, May 2017; IS Summer Workshop, National University of Singapore, June 2017; Taiwan Summer Workshop on Information Management, June 2017; University of Georgia, Oct 2017.
Arun’s research examines how firms can strategically manage IT to: orchestrate supply chains and business models; develop IT solutions using effective sourcing and partnering; accelerate digital innovation of products, services and processes; and create business value.
Arun’s research investigates how cost-effective IT interventions in social systems can alleviate poverty and address the health divide by improving healthcare access, health behaviors, and health outcomes of the socio-economically disadvantaged.