The Limits of Systems Integration: Complementarity, Contingencies, and Solution Design Choices
39 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2014 Last revised: 10 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 1, 2014
Whereas systems integration is recognized as an important organizational capability, the mechanisms through which it creates value as well as the environmental contingencies that delimit its effectiveness remain unclear, particularly when firms deliver integrated solutions embodying products and services. Focusing on IT solution providers, we investigate the effectiveness of systems integration with respect to three specific approaches to solution design: breadth, modularity, and customization. We find a complementarity effect between systems integration and solution design approaches: if firms pursue customization or rely on a broad set of heterogeneous knowledge bases, systems integration becomes fundamental. Conversely, if firms adopt a modular design, systems integration is redundant and even counterproductive. We also find evidence of complementarity between breadth and customization, but not between breadth and modularity nor between customization and modularity.
Keywords: systems integration, modularity, customization, solution design
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation