Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Business

First Advisor

Dr. Jane LeMaster

Second Advisor

Dr. Arturo Vasquez-Parraga

Third Advisor

Dr. Vern Vincent


This dissertation focuses on the acquisition of information systems technology and how the acquisition of information systems (IS) can improve the performance of a firm. The central purpose of this dissertation is to contribute to the literature that explains the success of IS projects. It addresses the organizational processes that contribute to the successful implementation of IS, and explains why some organizations achieve financial returns and strategic advantages from their IS efforts while others do not.

The population in this dissertation consists of top level IS executives in the US or Canada employed in firms who have implemented enterprise resource planning software. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) has the capability to join disparate data sources and make them available across enterprises in an organized, personalized, secure, and searchable fashion. ERP integrates key business and management processes to provide a comprehensive view of an organization.

The term used in the literature to refer to firm readiness to technological advances is absorptive capacity. Absorptive capacity is an organizational, firm-level construct that incorporates a learning curve into the technology adoption process. Cohen and Levinthal (1990) define absorptive capacity as the firm's ability to perceive value in external information, in this case an information system, and be able to adopt it, internalize it and exploit it to maximize profits. This dissertation tests the relationship between absorptive capacity and performance mediated by organizational learning. Absorptive capacity, therefore, is a measure of potential increase in performance but not a guarantee of increased performance. Several processes have to occur in order for organizations to learn. First of all, organizations have to acquire knowledge by eliciting or sharing knowledge (Argote, 1999) in the assimilation stage (Lane et al., 2001; Lane & Lubatkin, 1998). This stage is followed by a second stage named internalization or integration (Kim, 1998; Lyles & Salk, 1996). Group learning involves the processes through which members share, generate, evaluate and combine knowledge (Argote, 1999). The third stage, optimization, is where an organization reaches the point of exploitation of a learned technology (Cohen & Levinthal 1990, 1994).

The relationships between absorptive capacity, organizational learning and performance represent the research framework for the dissertation. A path begins from absorptive capacity to organizational learning, but because organizational learning is divided into three stages there are three separate paths leading to each level in organizational learning: assimilation, integration and optimization. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the series of dependence relationships simultaneously.


Copyright 2003 Edith Galy. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American