Opening the Black Box of Information Technology in Operations and Supply



Information technology (IT) has received surprisingly little attention in operations and supply management, despite its pervasive role in all types of organizations and sectors. In recent years, the dominant treatment of IT within the operations and supply field has been in supply chain management, where IT adoption has been shown empirically to be a means for greater supply chain integration. However, IT is typically treated as monolithic, generic and additional to a pre-existing operation or supply chain. Furthermore, the detail of its use in particular operations practices in particular settings are overlooked, except in research considering the challenges of IT implementation. Even then, the details of the interaction between IT and other organizational elements is neglected in favour of the identification of generic ‘critical success factors’ and ‘barriers to implementation’.

In this paper, we use case studies to examine the nature of the entanglement of IT with other aspects of operations and supply. We contend that IT is increasingly constitutive of operations rather than applied to operations. We further demonstrate that organizations’ capabilities in here in part (sometimes large part) in their ability to understand, configure and reconfigure a portfolio of IT artefacts according to the requirements of specific situations, typically with other non-IT technologies and resources, and often across organizational boundaries. In this sense we open the black box of IT in operations and supply, and maybe the black box of other operations technologies and resources, too.

Contact information:
Prof.dr. J.Y.F Wynstra