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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences

On-line version ISSN 2222-3436
Print version ISSN 1015-8812

S. Afr. j. econ. manag. sci. vol.13 n.2 Pretoria Jan. 2010




Chief information officers: An empirical study of competence, organisational positioning and implications for performance



Jason F Cohen; Claire M Dennis

School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand




The role and contribution of the firm's Chief Information Officer has been the subject of much debate and uncertainty. Yet, too few empirical studies have examined the implications of the CIO role. This study examined the effects of CIO demography, CIO competencies as well as CIO organisational positioning on the contribution of information systems (IS&T) to business performance. Data were collected from 111 South African companies and results revealed that CIO business, interpersonal/political and technology management competence have significant direct effects on the dependent variable. The effect of CIO organisational position, including structural power and political relationship, was found to be mediated by CIO competence. CIO work experience also impacted the contribution of IS&T. Results have important implications for our understanding of the competencies and organisational positioning required of executives charged with the responsibility for information systems and technology management.

Keywords: Information systems management, chief information officer, competence, top management, upper echelons, performance

JEL: M14



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Accepted February 2010




1 A trend recognised by the 2008 UKAIS conference.
2 This strategy allowed for variation in the specific titles used by organisations to describe the CIO role. Respondents were required to confirm that they served as the senior executive responsible for management of corporate information resources (Stephens et al., 1992).
3 IS&T experience was measured as 1 - pi where pi is the proportion of total years of work experience spent in the IS&T area. Thus the more years spent in IS&T, the lower would be the score thus leading to the negative sign on the relationship.
4 The mediating effect was confirmed by carrying out the procedure suggested by Baron and Kenny. Without the inclusion of CIO competence (the mediator), organisational positioning had a significant direct effect (p<0.05) on IS&T business value, but that effect became insignificant once CIO competence was introduced into the model.
5 It should be noted that CIOs from business functional backgrounds may be more reserved in reporting the contribution of IS&T to business value.

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