The role of IT governance in enhancing the competitiveness of for-profit private schools' business

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
IT governance is one of the topics that has emerged suddenly and became an important information issue in the information technology and business era. Many organizations around the world have realised the importance of formal IT governance practices to attain the generated business value, overall organizational effectiveness through IT. Underlying goals for adapting ITG include improving business performance and attaining competitive advantage over competitors in the same business sector. This exploratory study examines the dearth of empirical evidence about ITG in practice in an attractive for profit private school business sector that has not been explored prior to this work. It examines the level of Senior management’s awareness regarding IT and ITG, how IT governance is implemented, its status in the current settings of for-profit private school business, the inhibitors, enablers, and perceived outcomes of ITG in a for-profit private school business context. This paper contains interpretations regarding existing theories and concepts, models and finding of other researchers in the field of T governance and hence also presents the research questions that are derived from it. Multiple research strategies were considered in order to explore how for-profit private school business are implementing IT governance and to analyse the relationship between these implementations and achieving competitive advantage and business value. Just like any other industry, the for-profit private school business’s reliance on IT in achieving organizational effectiveness and efficiency has increased as a form of sustaining competitive advantage in a hyper business sector. Hence, resulting in higher IT investments attempting to create news ways of competition to the school business. In spite of the awareness of for-profit private schools of the vitality of IT in creating value to their business, these schools still show that the awareness of ITG related aspects and its effects on the organizations has not yet reached an acceptable level. The schools show a lack of understanding of the way IT business value can be measured, and the role of IT in innovation that can bring in business opportunities, hence not realising the full potential of value created via. IT. However, the current context of the for-profit private school business sector is promising and does show that there are a number of good ITG implementations and practice in place, which were basically a result of reaction taken to different IT related aspects over the years. It is evident that schools are attaining competitive advantage basically through the ITG implementations more than the affect of the management’s awareness and support, and more than the affect of increasing enablers and decreasing inhibitors on achieving value. The results show a strong positive relationship between the implemented ITG practices, ITG maturity levels and, the outcomes of IT in creating value. Therefore, the potential of IT is yet to be exploited in for profit private school business. The interest in IT indicates a positive environment for greater innovation to the use of IT to deal with the challenges facing the education services in the UAE and for the use of ITG to gain the proposed value expected from IT while achieving competitive advantage. This leads to the urgency for schools to consider reformulating the working practices of ITG to ensure IT is bringing in the proposed value to the organization. Based on the results of this study, a number of recommendations are suggested to school owners, directors and to educational authorities, in order to ensure higher levels of value return on IT and IT related aspects to achieve competitive advantage. Senior management need to take ownership of IT governance in for profit private school business and to be held accountable over all IT aspects. IT should be considered a strategic partner and ITG needs to be part of the overall school governance. Moreover, there is an urgency of increasing senior management’s awareness of the importance of IT and ITG through good training, orientation, or external advisory. The need to use formal ITG frameworks to consider ITG from a holistic perspective that can be used to enhance the value of IT for the organization and lead to being at a competitive edge. Hence, Educational Authorities from a statistical position should consider the importance of ITG in both public and private schools to attain the value created through IT and provide all the necessary support required to raise the awareness and realization of the necessity of considering ITG in schools. Further research needs to be conducted to explore the reasons impeding the for profit private school business from realizing the role of IT in creating innovations, and the reasons for the absence of professional IT-business value measurement metrics that hinder the realization of IT’s potential in creating value. In addition, to exploring the actual value created via effective ITG implementations in isolation of any other factors.
IT governance, private schools, business sector, competitive advantage, organizational effectiveness, business performance