The Chief Information Officer:
A Study of Managerial Roles
Norwegian School of Management
This study investigates the managerial roles of the chief information officer (CIO) based on
Mintzberg's classic managerial role model and CSC's information systems (IS) leadership
roles. A survey was conducted in Norway to investigate potential predictors of leadership
roles. Statistical results indicate that CIOs find the role of entrepreneur most important, and
this role has growing importance with increasing end-user computing maturity, IS
management maturity, administrative effectiveness, number of persons reporting to the CIO,
number of persons working in IS/IT and level of education. While end -user computing
maturity has significant influence on the importance of the entrepreneur, spokesman, leader
and liaison roles, IS management maturity has significant influence on the entrepreneur,
change architect and technology strategist roles.
The chief information officer (CIO) is the highest-ranking information systems (IS) executive
in an organization (Stephens et al., 1992). IS leadership has undergone fundamental changes
over the past decade (Cross et al., 1997). Despite increased interest in recent years (Earl,
2000), little empirical research on IS leadership roles has been done. Recommendations on
how to succeed as a CIO often lack empirical evidence (e.g., Baxter, 1997). The CIO roles
remain still rather ill- defined for the most part. It is clearly a position that needs to be
developed if organizations are going to be serious about information management and make it
This research was motivated by Grover et al. (1993) who investigated the roles of CIOs in
terms of difference from those of other managers. As a further step toward understanding CIO
managerial roles, this research investigates the roles of CIOs in terms of the extent to which
CIO roles change at varied levels of IS maturity, IS centralization, IS responsibility and IS
This article is organized as follows. First, the CIO position is discussed. This is followed by
Mintzberg's (1990, 1994) framework on managerial roles and by Computer Sciences
Corporation's (CSC) (1996) IS executive roles. Thereafter, a description of methodology and
a presentation of the study's findings are provided. The final section is comprised of
implications and future research.
THE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
The CIO position emerged in the 1970's as a result of increased importance placed on IS. In
the early 1980's, the CIO was often portrayed as the corporate savior who was to align the
worlds of business and technology. CIOs were described as the new breed of information
managers who are businessmen first, managers second, and technologists third (Grover et al.,
1993). It was even postulated that in the 1990s, as information was to become a firm's critical
resource, the CIO would become the logical choice for the chief executive officer (CEO)
position. Rockart (2000, p. 57) wrote recently that "all good CIOs today are business
executives first and technologists second".
As a manager of people, the CIO faces the usual human resource roles of recruiting, staff
training and retention, and the financial roles of budget determination, forecasting and
authorization. As the provider of technological services to user departments, there remains a
significant amount of work in publicity, promotion, and internal relations with user
management (Brown et al., 1996). As a manager of an often virtual information organization,
the CIO has to coordinate sources of information services spread throughout and beyond the
boundaries of the firm (Heckman, 1998). The CIO is thus concerned with a wider group of
issues than are most managers (Jordan, 1993). While information systems executives share
several similarities with the general manager, notable differences are apparent. The CIO is not
only concerned with a wider group of issues than most managers, but also, as the chief
information systems strategist, has a set of responsibilities that must constantly evolve with
the corporate information needs and with information technology (IT) itself. Earl and Feeny
(1994) concluded that the IT director's ability to add value is the biggest single factor in
determining whether the organization views IT as an asset or a liability.
Creation of the CIO role was driven in part by two organizational needs. First, accountability
is increased making a single executive responsible for the organization's processing needs
(Arnett and Jones, 1994). Second, creation of the CIO position facilitates the closing of the
"gap" between organizational and IT strategies which has long been cited as primary business
concern (Stephens et al., 1992). Though the importance of IT in creating competitive
advantage has been widely noted, achieving these gains has proven elusive. Sustained
competitive advantage requires not the development of a single system, but the ability to
consistently deploy IT faster, cheaper, and more strategically than one's competitors (Ross et
al., 1996). IS organizations play a critical role in realizing the potential of IT. The
performance of IS organizations, in turn, often centers on the quality of IS leadership
(Prattipati and Mensah, 1997).
Applegate and Elam (1992) indicate that the CIO is becoming a member of the top
management team and participates in organizational strategy development. Similarly, Earl and
Feeny (1994) state that CIOs see themselves as corporate officers and general business
managers. They suggest that CIOs must be politically savvy and that their high profile places
them in contention for top line management jobs. Stephens et al. (1992) applied the following
criteria when selecting CIOs for observation: i) highest ranking information technology
executive, ii) reports no more than two levels from CEO, i.e., either reports to the CEO or
reports to one of the CEOs direct reports, iii) areas of responsibility include information
systems, computer operations, telecommunications, office automatio n, end- user
computing/information center, and iv) responsibility for strategic planning of information
This research investigates the roles of CIOs in terms of the extent to which CIO roles change
at varied levels of IS maturity, IS centralization, IS responsibility and IS effectiveness. An
empirical investigation of this nature should offer a better understanding of the managerial
role priorities of IS managers and why role conflicts may occur. Assessment of the
relationship between the managerial roles and levels of IS maturity, IS centralization, IS
responsibility and IS effectiveness should also provide a more contingent perspective
concerning the CIO's roles (Grover et al., 1993). It is possible that by avoiding one relatively
ubiquitous CIO model for varied IS organizational situations, more realistic expectations
concerning the position in different organizational contexts may be established. Finally, the
study should provide implications for management development programs, training, and t he
career planning of IS managers.
THE MINTZBERG ROLES
Managers undertake activities to achieve the objectives of the organization. Mintzberg (1994)
notes a number of different and sometimes conflicting views of the manager's role. He finds
that it is a curiosity of the management literature that its best-known writers all seem to
emphasize one particular part of the manager's job to the exclusion of the others. Together,
perhaps, they cover all the parts, but even that does not describe the whole job of managing.
Based on an observational study of chief executives, Mintzberg (1990) concluded that a
manager's work could be described in terms of job roles.
According to Grover et al. (1993), a number of empirical studies have found that managers
within different functional areas will place different importance on their managerial roles.
Although previous research has studied the relative importance of managerial roles in
sales/marketing, production/engineering, and accounting/finance, little research has focused
on the perceived importance of managerial roles of the CIO. Table 1 presents Mintzberg's
managerial roles as applied to the IS function by Grover et al. (1993).
Table 1: Mintzberg's Managerial Roles applied to CIOs
1. Leader: As the leader, the IS manager is responsible for supervising, hiring, train ing, and
motivating a cadre of specialized personnel. Literature has emphasized the impact of this role on
IS personnel. This ro le is mainly internal to the IS organization.
2. Spokesman: Th is role incorporates activities that require the IS manager to extend organizational
contacts outside the department to other areas of the organization. Frequently, he or she must
cross traditional depart mental boundaries and become involved in affairs of production,
distribution, marketing, and finance. This role is mainly external in relat ion to the intra -
organizational environ ment.
3. Monitor: The IS manager must scan the external environ ment to keep up with technical changes
and competition. In acting as the firm's technical innovator, the IS manager identifies new ideas
fro m sources outside of the organization. To accomplish this, the IS manager uses many sources
including vendor contacts, professional relationships, and a network of personal contacts. This
role is main ly external in relation to the inter-organizational environ ment.
4. Liaison: The IS manager must communicate with the external environ ment including
exchanging information with IS suppliers, customers, buyers, market analysts, and the media.
This role is main ly external in relation to the inter-organizational environ ment.
5. Entrepreneur: The IS manager identifies business needs and develops solutions that change
business situations. A major responsibility of the IS manager is to ensure that rapidly evolving
technical opportunities are understood, planned, imp lemented, and strategically exp loited in the
organization. This role is mainly external in relat ion to the intra-organizat ional environment.
6. Resource allocator: The IS manager must decide how to allocate human, financial, and
informat ion resources. The litany of past discussion on chargeback systems and the importance
of "fairness" in IS resource allocation decisions speak to the importance of this role. This role is
mainly internal to the IS organization.
THE CSC ROLES
Changes in both information technology and competition continue to change the role of the
information systems executive. CSC (1996) has suggested six new IS leadership roles which
are required to execute IS’s future agenda as listed in table 2. Previous empirical research has
indicated that the six roles load significantly on two factors labeled change architect and
technology strategist (Gottschalk, 2000).
Table 2: CSC's IS Leadershi p Roles
1. Chief architect. The chief arch itect des igns future possibilit ies for the business. The primary
work of the chief architect is to design and evolve the IT infrastructure so that it will expand the
range of future possibilit ies for the business, not define specific business outcomes. The
infrastructure should provide not just today's technical services, such as networking, databases
and desktop operating systems, but an increasing range of business -level services, such as
workflow, portfolio management, scheduling, and specific business components or objects.
2. Change leader. The change leader orchestrates resources to achieve optimal imp lementation of
the future. The essential role of the change leader is to orchestrate all those resources that will be
needed to execute the change program. This includes providing new IT tools, but it also involves
putting in place teams of people who can redesign roles, jobs and workflow, who can change
beliefs about the company and the work people do, and who understand human nature and can
develop incentive systems to coax people into new and different behaviors.
3. Product developer. The product developer helps define the company’s place in the emerging
digital economy. For example, a product developer might recognize the potential for performing
key business processes (perhaps order fulfillment, purchasing or delivering customer support)
over electronic linkages such as the Internet. The product developer must "sell" the idea to a
business partner, and together they can set up and evaluate business experiments, which are
init ially operated out of IS. Whether the new methods are adopted or not, the company will learn
fro m the experiments and so move closer to commercial success in emerg ing digital markets.
4. Technology provocateur. The technology provocateur embeds IT into the business strategy. The
technology provocateur works with senior business executives to bring IT and realities of the IT
marketplace to bear on the formation of strategy for the business. The technology provocateur is
a senior business executive who understands both the business and IT at a deep enough level to
integrate the two perspectives in discussions about the future course of the business. Technology
provocateurs have a wealth of experience in IS d isciplines, so they understand at a funda mental
level the capabilit ies of IT and how IT impacts the business.
5. Coach. The coach teaches people to acquire the skillsets they will need for the future. Coaches
have two basic responsibilities: teaching people how to learn, so that they can become se lf-
sufficient, and providing team leaders with staff able to do the IT-related work of the business. A
mechanis m that assists both is the center of excellence - a small group of people with a part icular
competence or skill, with a coach responsible for their gro wth and development. Coaches are
solid practitioners of the competence that they will be coaching, but need not be the best at it in
6. Chief operating strategist. The chief operating strategist invents the future with senior
management. The chief operating strategist is the top IS executive who is focused on the future
agenda of the IS organization. The strategist has parallel responsibilities related to helping the
business design the future, and then delivering it. The most important, a nd least understood,
parts of the role have to do with the interpretation of new technologies and the IT marketplace,
and the bringing of this understanding into the development of the digital business strategy for
Four factors are proposed that could influence the nature of IS executive roles: the level of IS
maturity, the degree of IS centralization, the extent of IS responsibility and the level of IS
IS maturity can be defined as the formalization level of IS control mechanisms, level of user
awareness and involvement, availability of strategic IS planning, and the degree to which the
setting of IS objectives is rational and compatible with organizational objectives (Grover et
al., 1993). There are two research streams concerned with IS maturity. First, critical success
factors have been applied to identify Nolan's stages of growth (Khandelwal and Ferguson,
1999). Second, key issues in IS management have been applied to identify corporate IT
development (Watson et al., 1997). Both research streams suggest that more mature
organizations need a CIO in the technology strategist role. Furthermore, Grover et al. (1993)
found that more mature organizations had CIOs in the liaison and spokesman roles.
Proposition 1: The managerial role importance of CIOs is related to the level of IS maturity.
1a: As IS matures, the liaison role becomes more important.
1b: As IS matures, the spokesman role becomes more important.
1c: As IS matures, the role of technology strategist becomes more important.
Researchers have stated that the centralization of IS activities may also affect the managerial
roles of the CIO (Earl and Feeny, 1994). A technology-dominated environment helps
determine the degree of centralization of IS activities. Some central control over standards
and operating procedures is needed. To expand or maintain one's overall control over
organizational interest groups, self-serving behaviors such as enhancing one's position,
building a power base, and establishing the right political connections is required. Through
the spokesman role the CIO may attempt to use political "muscle" with end-user departments.
Typically, accompanying this political role is greater budgetary control as resource allocator
of the corporate information resources. As IS resources are centralized, the CIO's
accountability for effectively utilizing IS resources increases, thus emphasizing the need for
environmental scanning in the monitor role to achieve technological improvement (Grover et
al., 1993). Studies of key issues in IS management have indicated the importance of a
responsive technical infrastructure and information architecture (Brancheau et al., 1996;
Watson et al., 1997). Such key issues are believed to be more important for the IS function as
IS centralizes, and the CIO has to be a change architect to cope with these issues.
Proposition 2: The managerial role importance of CIOs is related to the level of IS
2a: As IS centralizes, the spokesman role becomes more important.
2b: As IS centralizes, the resource allocator role becomes more important.
2c: As IS centralizes, the monitor role becomes more important.
2d: As IS centralizes, the role of change architect becomes more important.
IS responsibility may include responsibility for information systems, computer operations,
communication networks, strategic IS/IT planning, bridging strategy, benefits realization,
information architecture, technical infrastructure, IS/IT budget and IS/IT personnel. It has
been suggested that the CIO role may eventually split in two - so demanding is the scope: "It's
possible to imagine a CIO who is responsible for strategy, change, and information resources
working alongside a chief technology officer who is responsible for technology policy,
infrastructure planning, and operations" (Earl, 2000, p.60). Previous research has indicated
that responsibility elements load on two separate factors: operating responsibility and
strategic responsibility (Gottschalk, 2000). While operating responsibility comprise of
information systems, computer operations, communications networks, information
architecture, technical infrastructure, IS/IT budget and IS/IT personnel, strategic
responsibility comprise of strategic IS/IT planning, bridging strategy and benefits realization.
It has been argued that strategic responsibility influence the spokesman, monitor, and
technology strategist roles (Lepore, 2000), while operating responsibility has been found to
influence only the extent of the change architect role.
Proposition 3: The managerial role importance of CIOs is related to the level of IS
3a: As IS strategic responsibility increases, the spokesman role becomes more important.
3b: As IS strategic responsibility increases, the monitor role becomes more important.
3c: As IS strategic responsibility increases, the role of technology strategist becomes more
3d: As IS operating responsibility increases, the role of change architect becomes more
IS effectiveness is concerned with software development, human resources, legacy
applications and effectiveness measurement (Brancheau et al., 1996). It has been argued that
the role of the CIO is influenced by IS effectiveness. If IS effectiveness is low, CIOs have to
concentrate on the IS organization as leader and resource allocator. When IS effectiveness
improves, CIOs can spend more time in the inter-organizational environment as liaison and
monitor (Grover et al., 1993) as well as technology strategist.
Proposition 4: The managerial role importance of CIOs is related to the level of IS
4a: As IS effectiveness improves, the liaison role becomes more important.
4b: As IS effectiveness improves, the monitor role becomes more important.
4c: As IS effectiveness improves, the role of technology strategist becomes more important.
Grover et al. (1993) suggested that contingent factors need to be investigated as to their effect
on the roles of CIOs. Company size measured by the total number of employees, executive
span measured by the number of employees reporting to the CIO, size of IS measured by the
total number of employees working in IS/IT department(s), and organizational rank of the
CIO measured by the number of reporting levels to the CEO need to be investigated as to their
effect on CIO role importance. For example, while a survey by Earl (2000) identified the
median size to be 1800 employees reporting to the CIO, it was expected that the median in
this study in Norway only will be a two digit number. Also personal characteristics, such as
number of years in the present position, number of years worked in the IS/IT field, number of
years in the organization, age, and formal education may as well influence CIO roles (Reich
and Kaarst-Brown, 1999).
Proposition 5: The managerial role importance of CIOs is related to organizational and
5a: As the total number of employees in the organization increases, the spokesman role
becomes more important.
5b: As the total number of employees reporting to the CIO increases, the leader role becomes
5c: As the total number of employees working in IS/IT department(s) increases, the role of
technology strategist becomes more important.
5d: As the number of years in the present position increases, the role of change architect
becomes more important.
5e: As the number of years worked in the IS/IT field increases, the role of resource allocator
becomes more important.
5f: As the number of years worked in the organization, the role of resource allocator becomes
5g: As the age increases, the monitor role becomes more important.
5h: As the number of reporting levels to the CEO decreases, the role of technology strategist
becomes more important.
5i: As the level of formal education increases, the role of technology strategist becomes more
In summary, four independent factors and nine contingent factors are proposed that could
influence the nature of IS executive roles as illustrated in figure 1.
IS maturity Managerial Roles
IS centralization Monitor
IS responsibility IS Leadership Roles
Figure 1: Research Model
The Grover et al. (1993) instrument, which operationalized the managerial roles identified by
Mintzberg and adapted them to the IS context, was used as a basis to investigate the roles of
CIOs. The rationale for choosing this instrument was based upon the high validity and
reliability they and others have obtained within each of the managerial roles. The survey
instrument contains forty-six Likert seven-point scales, and it asks CIOs to rate the
importance of each item as it relates to their job. The complete survey instrument in this
research is presented in the appendix.
The CSC (1996) categorization of IS leadership roles was used as a basis to investigate IS
related roles of CIOs. The rationale for choosing their categories was based upon the
recognition by practicing CIOs and upon the two factors obtained in previous research
(Gottschalk, 2000). The survey instrument for this part contains six Likert seven-point scales,
and it asks CIOs to rate the importance of each item as it applies to their job as presented in
For IS maturity and centralization, fifteen items were used to capture both constructs as
previously applied by Grover et al. (1993). For IS responsibility, ten items were used to
capture both operating responsibility and strategic responsibility. For IS effectiveness, eight
items were used from previous studies of key issues in IS management where some key issues
were categorized as internal effectiveness issues (Brancheau et al., 1996).
A study sample of 684 companies was selected from the listing of members of the Norwegian
Computing Society. It was assumed that these firms would tend to have IS executives with
job attributes consistent with our CIO definition. The desired informants in this research were
the highest ranking IS/IT executive (Stephens et al., 1992) to measure their own perceptions
of roles and possible explanations of roles (Grover et al., 1993). Based on the availability of
correct addresses, 673 questionnaires reached their destinations. Surveys with incomplete
responses were deleted, resulting in a total sample of 128 usable responses representing a
response rate of 19 percent. The study's demographics revealed that in April 2000, a CIO was
on average 42 years of age with an average of 14 years of IS experience, 4.6 of which were in
the current CIO position.
A reliability test of the Grover et al. (1993) items used for managerial roles showed
coefficient alphas ranged from .60 for the entrepreneur role to .86 for the leader role. The
same items maintained an acceptable reliability level for each role construct in this research,
ranging from .62 for the spokesman role to .79 for the liaison role. The CSC (1996)
categorization of IS leadership roles was used as a basis to investigate IS leadership roles. An
exploratory factor analysis was applied to the six items, and two significant factors were
identified. The two factors were labeled change architect and technology strategist. The two
factors were already taken into account in figure 1 based on previous research results
(Gottschalk, 2000). The two factors had acceptable reliability of .63 and .71.
To measure convergent and discriminant validity of the adapted IS maturity and centralization
items, Grover etal. (1993) used an oblique rotation because the two constructs were
interrelated and were not considered to be independent entities. The Eigenvalue greater than
one rule was used as the criterion to extract the factors. The result of the factor analysis did
not produce support for a "unidimension" assumption for each construct. The factor analysis
resulted in four factors explaining 77.7 percent of the overall variance. Hence, these results
pointed out that two different dimensions of IS centralization and two different kinds of IS
maturity exist. Grover et al. (1993) named the first factor IS resource centralization, which
reflects the degree of centralization in physical IS resources such as equipment, IS personnel,
and the IS development capability. The second factor, IS management centralization, denotes
the location of responsibility and decision- making authority over IS resources and services.
The third factor was named end-user computing maturity, which focuses on the maturity level
of end users in terms of end users' involvement in IS projects, information technology
awareness, and their expertise and capabilities in information system development. The fourth
factor was named IS management maturity and reflects the maturity of overall IS management
including control mechanisms as well as strategic IS use. In this study, the coefficient alphas
for the two IS maturity sub-dimensions were found to be .68 (end-user computing maturity)
and .64 (IS management maturity), while the coefficient alphas for the two IS centralization
constructs were only .76 (IS resource centralization) and .72 (IS management centralization).
IS responsibility was measured on a multiple item scale. The item questions were concerned
with responsibility for information systems, computer operations, communication networks,
strategic IS/IT planning, bridging IS/IT and business strategy, benefits realisation,
information architecture, technical infrastructure, IS/IT budget, and IS/IT personnel
(Applegate and Elam, 1992; Earl and Feeny, 1994; CSC, 1996; Cross et al., 1997). An
exploratory factor analysis was applied to the ten items, and two significant factors were
identified. The two factors were labeled operating responsibility and strategic responsibility.
The two factors were already taken into account in figure 1 based on previous research results
(Gottschalk, 2000). The two factors had acceptable Cronbach coefficients of .69 and .67.
An exploratory factor analysis was applied also to the eight IS effectiveness ite ms, and two
significant factors were identified. The two factors were labeled administrative effectiveness
and management effectiveness. Both factors had acceptable Cronbach coefficients of .64 and
With acceptable reliabilities as documented above, we are now able to compute descriptive
statistics for each variable as listed in table 2. The leadership role with highest score among
CIOs is the role of entrepreneur with an average score of 5.5.
Table 2: Descripti ve Statistics for Mul ti ple Item Scales
Variable Mean St.dev.
Leader 4.9 .77
Spokesman 5.1 .84
Monitor 4.7 .69
Liaison 4.2 .85
Entrepreneur 5.5 .79
Resource allocator 4.8 .78
Change architect 4.6 1.2
Technology strategist 4.9 1.0
End-user computing maturity 4.5 .9
IS management maturity 4.7 1.1
IS resource centralization 5.1 1.5
IS management centralization 5.3 1.0
Operating responsibility 5.9 .9
Strategic responsibility 5.5 .9
Admin istrative effectiveness 4.8 .7
Management effectiveness 5.1 .9
Note: Likert-scale from 1 (low role importance) to 7 (high role importance)
ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
Table 3 displays the correlation matrix between each role and the two IS maturity factors. The
proposed positive relationship between the liaison and spokesman roles and IS maturity were
significant for the derived sub-dimension of end-user computing maturity. The proposed
relationship between the role of technology strategist and IS maturity was significant for the
derived sub-dimension of IS management maturity. Thus, all three hypotheses were supported
for one of the derived sub-dimension of IS maturity. In addition, table 3 indicates that the
extent of end-user computing maturity has a significant impact on the extent of leader,
spokesman and entrepreneur roles, while the extent of IS manage ment maturity has a
significant impact on the extent of entrepreneur and change architect roles. The entrepreneur
role is the only leadership role which is significantly impacted by both end- user computing
maturity and IS management maturity.
Table 3 shows that there are three significant correlations regarding IS centralization. The first
correlation indicates a significant impact from IS management centralization on the
spokesman role, thereby providing support for hypothesis 2a. The second correlation indicates
a significant impact from IS management centralization on the change architect role, thereby
providing support for hypothesis 2d. Thus, two of the hypotheses were supported for one of
the derived sub-dimension of IS centralization. The third correlation indicates a significant
influence from IS resource centralization on the monitor role as suggested in hypothesis 2c.
However, while the hypothesis suggests a positive relationship, the empirical data suggest a
significant negative relationship, i.e., as IS centralizes, the monitor role becomes less
Table 3: Correlation Matrix among the CIO Roles and IS Maturity and Centralization
Roles End-user IS management IS IS management
computing maturity resource centralization
Leader .21* .08 -.08 .09
Spokesman .25* .17 -.02 .21*
Monitor .13 .13 -.19* .00
Liaison .20* .04 -.07 .08
Entrepreneur .31** .24** -.05 .14
Resource allocator .06 .13 .00 .07
Change architect -.01 .19* -.04 .21*
Technology strategist .06 .21* -.01 .15
* significant at p<.05; ** significant at p<.01.
Table 4 shows that only one of the responsibility hypotheses finds support. As IS strategic
responsibility increases, the role of technology strategist becomes more important (hypothesis
3c). In addition, there is a significant impact from strategic responsibility on the change
Table 4 displays that the derived sub-dimension of administrative effectiveness provides
support for all three effectiveness hypotheses. In addition, ad ministrative effectiveness seems
to have an impact on the spokesman, entrepreneur and resource allocator roles as well.
Management effectiveness impacts spokesman and resource allocator roles.
Table 4: Correlation Matrix among the CIO Roles and IS Responsibility and Effectiveness
Roles Operating Strategic Administrative Management
responsibility responsibility effectiveness effectiveness
Leader .16 .06 .17 .12
Spokesman .13 .08 .32** .24*
Monitor -.05 -.05 .28** .14
Liaison -.03 .00 .21* .05
Entrepreneur .04 .04 .22* .01
Resource allocator .05 .12 .33** .20*
Change architect .11 .26** .14 -.02
Technology strategist .04 .32** .35** .11
Tables 5a and 5b display that none of the contingency hypotheses found support in the
sample. The statistical analysis indicates that there are other significant relationships. First,
the entrepreneur role importance increases when the number of persons reporting to the CIO
increases and when the number of persons working in IS/IT department(s) increases. Second,
the number of years worked in IS/IT has a positive effect on the importance of the leader role.
Third, the spokesman role importance decreases with both the number of years the CIO has
been in the organization and the age of the CIO. Fourth, age has also a ne gative impact on the
leader role importance. Fifth, increasing number of levels between CIO and CEO has a
negative impact on change architect importance. More education (i.e, master's rather than
bachelor's degree) has a positive influence on the importanc e of the entrepreneur and the
change architect roles.
Table 5a: Correlation Matrix among the CIO Roles and Organizational and Personal Characteristics
Roles 5a: 5b: 5c: 5d: 5e:
Empl. Report Work Position IS/IT
Leader -.04 .01 -.04 -.09 -.18*
Spokesman .04 .07 -.02 -.10 -.12
Monitor .13 -.04 .13 .03 -.08
Liaison .08 -.01 .13 -.09 -.03
Entrepreneur .15 .22* .20* -.08 -.09
Resource allocator .03 -.01 .02 -.08 -.15
Change architect .06 .07 .16 -.05 .05
Technology strategist .05 .09 .09 .03 .01
Table 5b: Correlation Matrix among the CIO Roles and Organizational and Personal Characteristics
Roles 5f: 5g: 5h: 5i:
Organizat. Age Levels Education
Leader -.14 -.18* .02 -.04
Spokesman -.24** -.23** -.11 -.11
Monitor -.05 -.10 .08 .00
Liaison -.11 -.02 .01 .00
Entrepreneur -.07 -.01 -.02 .24**
Resource allocator -.13 -.17 .07 -.10
Change architect -.11 .00 -.26** .19*
Technology strategist -.03 .06 -.01 .09
These results provide some empirical insight into CIO role importance and possible role
explanations. Responding CIOs find the role of entrepreneur most important, and this role has
growing importance when IS maturity is high as illustrated in figure 2.
Adapting Grover et al.'s (1993) division of intra- and inter-organizational environments as a
classification scheme, figure 2 illustrates the roles of CIOs in terms of communication and
information flows between the IS/IT organization and the two outside environments with
which it must interact to survive. Based on this view, the model in figure 2 places all six
managerial roles in the context of decision locations, communication and information flows.
With exception of the two roles internal to IS/IT (leader and resource allocator), the remaining
four external roles are established through interaction between intra- and inter-organizational
environment. For example, in the entrepreneur role, the CIO is continually seeking
information from other parts of the business to initiate and design change.
CIO years Environment: End-user
in firm computing
to CIO Entrepreneur 5.5 Spokesman 5.1 management
Persons IS/IT Organization
working in IS
Leader 4.9 influence)
CIO years Resource allocator 4.8 IS
in IS/IT management
Liaison 4.2 Monitor 4.7
CIO's age Admin.
influence) Inter-organizational ness
CIO's Vendors/Customers Management
level of Competitive Environment effective-
education Personal Contacts ness
Figure 2: CIO Roles and Role Predictors
IMPLICATIONS FOR MANAGEMENT
The CIO function is a continuously evolving role (Applegate and Elam, 1992; Stephens et al.,
1992; Earl, 2000). The present research provides a snapshot in this progression. Identifying
these trends in information systems leadership has implications for both research and practice.
First, educators can use this information to develop management programs. Second, these
roles and trends represent important guidelines for practicing CIOs. The senior IS executive
must be able to bring both a business and IS/IT perspective to the position. This is often called
the hybrid manager because the manager must be able to work as comfortably in the business
as in the technical area by having three competencies: i) knowledge of emerging information
technology, ii) knowledge of the business, and iii) ability to link information technology
potential with business needs (Baxter, 1997). More definitive role expectations could also aid
in career planning (Applegate and Elam, 1992). Grover et al. (1993) suggest that the role
approach may provide an alternative method in CIO selection procedures. For example, in
companies where IS management is mature, a CIO who is suitable for the entrepreneur role
may be a good choice for the position.
Figure 2 illustrates that CIO roles are highly contingent. There are no right and no wrong
roles. Figure 2 can be used to identify three areas of management and their influencing
factors. First, a CIO tends to be internally oriented towards the IS/IT function as leader and
resource allocator when end-user computing maturity and administrative effectiveness are
high. A CIO also tends to be internally oriented when the CIO has been working in IS/IT for
few years and when the CIO is young. From these results it can be concluded that there is a
danger for young CIOs with few years in IS/IT to be too internally focused, especially when
the administrative effectiveness and end-user computing maturity are low. A young CIO with
few years in IS/IT may find it challenging enough to run the IS/IT function, but it is important
for the CIO quickly to get involved with both the intra-organizational and inter-organizational
Second, a CIO tends to be focused on the intra-organizational environment when maturity,
centralization and effectiveness are all high. A CIO also tends to have this focus when the
number of personnel working in IS/IT and the number of personnel reporting to the CIO are
high, the CIO has been in the firm for few years, the CIO is young, and the CIO has a master's
degree. From these results it can be concluded that there is a danger for CIOs who have been
in the firm for few years to be too focused on the intra-organizational environment before
knowing the IT function well enough, especially when maturity, centralization and
effectiveness are all high.
Finally, a CIO tends to be focused on the inter-organizational environment when IS resource
centralization is low, administrative effectiveness is high and end- user computing maturity is
high. Low IS resource centralization indicates that the CIO who is typically located centrally,
has little responsibility for leading and resource allocating within the IS/IT organization. High
end-user computing maturity indicates that user departments are demanding customers of
IS/IT functions. Both lack of operational responsibility and presence of demanding user
departments lead the CIO to spend more time in the inter-organizational environment to
identify trends and possibilities in the area of information tchnology.
Future research should not take the six leadership roles from CSC (1996) for granted.
Analysis of each leadership role has to be performed. Many leadership actions are
multifunctional and include several of these role attributes. A more critical stance towards
preconditions such as leadership roles should be applied. Sets of managerial and leadership
roles should in future research be selected also on the basis of variation to identify differences
between CIOs. The current set of Mintzberg roles is all filled by responding CIOs. A better
set of roles would be such that a responding CIO can assign only a one to some roles (i.e.,
dictator, politician) while assigning a six to other roles (i.e., entrepreneur, monitor).
Generally, future research should attempt to develop a theory of CIO roles. Such a theory will
put Mintzberg's well accepted roles as well as other sets of roles in some context. Such a
theory will avoid sets of roles to seem orthogonal to each other if they are related. Role lists
such as Mintzberg's and CSC's can be synthesized on the basis of theory.
Future research should focus on fewer propositions than the current research to improve
theoretical and empirical evidence and support for selected propositions. The selected
propositions should be refined to cover the actual cross sectional testing. The current
formulation - "as X increases, Y will increase" - may seem misleading as it suggests both a
causal and dynamic model. Rather, a more appropriate proposition formulation would be that
"at higher levels of X, we observe higher levels of Y".
From a methodological standpoint, self-report of leadership roles and activities is not a strong
approach to assessing leadership. Preferable would be to use subordinates, colleagues and
superiors as informants as well, an approach called 360 degrees appraisal. Furthermore, the
degree and direction of discrepancy between CIO's perceptions and expectations may provide
additional clarity concerning managerial roles. As suggested by Grover et al. (1993), this area
of research may demonstrate that what CIOs expect as their job responsibilities may not be
the same as what they really do in their everyday job. Factors that may cause this expectation-
perception gap include such contingent variables as top manager support, the CIO's
organization ranking or power, and IS resource availability.
This study provides some empirical insight into CIO role importanc e and possible role
explanations. Responding CIOs find the role of entrepreneur most important, and this role has
growing importance with increasing IS maturity, administrative effectiveness and personnel
responsibility. Results obtained in this study differ from results obtained in a study conducted
by Grover et al. (1993). Both constructs and survey instrument should be revised in future
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CIO Survey 2000 Instrument
A - Please rate the importance of the following tasks as they are related to your job:
(Circle the appropriate number)
important i mportant
Maintaining your personal network of contacts......................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Attending social functions which allow you to keep up your contacts....... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Evaluating the quality of subordinate job performance............................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Integrating subordinates' goals with the company's work requirements.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Keeping in touch with and helping subordinates with personal problems 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Assessing political events as they may affect your work........................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Planning and implementing change.......................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Keeping up with market changes and trends that impact your department 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Distributing budgeted resources............................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Making decisions about time parameters for upcoming projects.............. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Preventing the loss of resources valued by your department................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Resolving conflicts between subordinates................................................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Allocating money within your unit.............................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Keeping up with information on the progress of operations in the company1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Attending conferences or meetings to maintain your contacts.................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Initiating controlled change in your unit..................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Keeping up with technological developments related to your work........... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Deciding for which programs to provide resources................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Keeping track of subordinates' special skills to facilitate personal growth 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Allocating manpower to specific jobs or tasks.......................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Presiding at meetings as a representative of your department................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Providing new employees with adequate training.................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Gathering information about trends outside your department.................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Attending social functions as a representative of your department.......... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
important i mportant
Allocating equipment or materials............................................................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Gathering information about customers and competitors......................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Touring facilities for observational purposes............................................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Seeing to that subordinates are alert to problems that need attention..... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Serving as an expert to people outside of your immediate department... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Learning about new ideas originating outside your department............... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Reading reports on activities in information system department(s)......... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Using your authority to ensure that your subordinates accomplish tasks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Maintaining supervision over changes in your department...................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Providing guidance to your subordinates on organizational issues......... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Joining associations which might provide useful work-related contacts.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Solving problems by instituting needed changes in your department...... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Informing others of your department's future plans.................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Giving negative feedback (criticizing subordinates when appropriate).... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Directing the work of your subordinates................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Staying attuned to the grapevine............................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Developing new contacts by answering requests for information............ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Developing personal relationships with people outside your unit............ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Ansering letters of inquiries on behalf of your department...................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Forwarding important information to your subordinates.......................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Keeping other people informed about your department's activities......... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Developing contacts with important people outside your department..... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
B - Please rate the importance of the following leadership roles
as they apply to your job:
important i mportant
Chief architect designing future possibilities for the business..................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Change leader orchestrating resources to achieve future goals................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Product developer defining the company's place in the digital economy.... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Technology provocateur embedding IT into the business strategy............. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Coach teaching people to acquire the skillsets they will need for the future1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Chief operating strategist inventing the future for senior management...... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
C - To what extent:
Not To a great
at all extent
Is the information system user aware of system projects?......................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is the user capable of participation in various aspects of system projects? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is the user capable of leadership in various aspects of system projects? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Are rules, procedures, and organizational activities documented?............. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is information system planning linked with business planning?................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Does your organization employ rules and procedures in application use? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Does your organization use systems for competitive advantage?............. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is information technology dispersed in your organization?........................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Does each organizational unit or function have its own systems?............. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Does each organizational unit or function create its own systems?........... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Are information systems support personnel centralized in one place?...... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is the information system department responsible for performing analysis?1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is the information system department responsible for performing design? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is the information system department responsible for hardware policy? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Is the information system department responsible for systems planning? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
D - Please rate the extent to which the information
system department is responsible for:
responsible res ponsible
Information systems.................................................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Computer operations.................................................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Communication networks........................................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strategic IS/IT planning.............................................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Aligning IS/IT strategy with business strategy............................................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Realization of benefits for IS/IT.................................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Information architecture............................................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Technical infrastructure............................................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
IS/IT budget............................................................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
IS/IT personnel.......................................................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
E - Please rate the effectiveness of the following
information system department activities:
effecti ve effecti ve
Recruiting and developing IS human resources......................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Reducing IT projects' completion time........................................................ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Improving computer operations planning.................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Improving software application practices.................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Securing cost effectiveness in computer operations................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Handling complaints about IS from users.................................................. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Managing computer networks................................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Allocating resources in the IS function...................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
F - Please provide the following general information:
The total number of employees in the organization:____________(persons)
The total number of employees reporting to you:__________(persons)
The total number of employees working in IS/IT department(s):__________(person)
How many years have you worked in your present position?__________(years)
How many years have you worked in the IS/IT field?__________(years)
How many years have you worked in the organization?__________(years)
What is your age?__________(years)
What is your job title in the organization?___________________________________(in Norwegian)
What is your job title in the organization?___________________________________(in English)
What is the title of the person you report to in the organization?_________________(in Norwegian)
What is the title of the person you report to in the organization?_________________(in English)
How many reporting levels exist between you and the chief executive? __0 __1 __2 __3
What is your highest education completed?__college (høyskole minst ett år) __bachelorgrad (siv.ing.,
siv.øk. eller lignende) __mastergrad (hovedfag eller lignende) __doktorgrad (dr.scient. eller lignende)