Closing the loop: Empirical evidence for a positive feedback model of IT business value creation

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Researchers have established that information technology (IT) can improve firms’ productivity. Whether improved productivity leads to additional investment in IT, however, remains largely uninvestigated. In this paper, we consider whether the relationship between productivity and subsequent IT investment might be positive, negative, or ad hoc, and hypothesize that this relationship is positive. We analyze seven years of panel data from 1236 healthcare firms and present empirical evidence supporting our hypothesis. When our finding is combined with extant research, it becomes reasonable to propose that unidirectional causality does not fully describe the process of IT business value creation. Instead, we argue that existing static models of IT business value with unidirectional causality can be recast as dynamic models that explicitly incorporate multiple time periods and a positive feedback relationship to more accurately capture the complexity of this process. The creation of IT business value can thus be understood as a positive feedback model where IT investment in a given time period builds the stock of IT inputs, where those IT inputs then impact productivity, and where productivity leads to IT investment in a future time period, beginning the cycle anew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-160
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Strategic Information Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Business value of IT
  • Causality
  • Healthcare
  • IT payoff
  • Longitudinal
  • Panel data
  • Productivity


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