A Capability Development Process Framework: Insights from Green IT Program of China Mobile

Abstract

With the growing significance of green IT program addressing climate change among industries, there is an increased interest in the role of such “Green Strategy” in organizations’ core competency. Despite the widely held belief that environmental strategy is fundamental to an organization’s survival and growth, researchers are still struggling to figure out the underlying mechanisms through which green IT has impacts on the business performance. Previous studies in this field only focused on identifying attributes of firms’ resources and capabilities, lack of dynamic view on the process development. Moreover, some studies only investigated the impacts of green IT within organizations, lack of examining the external influence to their network partners. By conducting a longitudinal case study of the green IT initiatives (green action plan) formation and implementation in China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile telecommunications provider, this study aims to bridge these gaps through establishing a capability development process framework revealing the gradual process that an organization expands the influence of environmental strategy within enterprise to the entire industry community. We draw on the resource-based theory to examine what kinds of key resources are used and what key actions are taken to support the capability development in each phase. Besides, by introducing the Technology-Organization-Environment framework, the resources are identified from a new perspective and are more clearly presented.

The detailed design of this research.

Research Framework

Key Resources Used Throughout the Process

A Typology of Key Resources

Capability Development Process Framework

Discussion

Aiming at solving the research question at the beginning of the paper, the capability development process framework has important implications on research. First of all, through establishing a capability development process framework which reveals that attaining and enacting green leadership within the industry community is actually a gradual process, this study complements the current variance research stream by demonstrating how a company could make full use of the specific key resources to develop, manage and deploy key capabilities as the support to the entire green IT initiatives formation and implementation progress. Second, the framework provides an empirical evidence for futures studies in IS discipline as well strategic management and other relevant research fields. Third, while previous studies investigating the impacts of IT initiatives conduction seldom discussed the external benefits obtained together with network partnerships, this study introduces a common used typology in resource-based view to classify the firm-specific resources into two categories. Besides inside-out resources, this study focuses on investigating the characteristics and influence of the outside-in resources so as to further examine how a company benefits externally through conducting collective green IT initiatives and finally achieves “Green Leadership” in the industry community. Finally, while previous studies in related fields mainly discussed resources from IT context and they seldom considered such question in the background of green IT, this study draws on resource-based view combined with the technology-organization-environment theory to examine how green IT programs could be effectively implemented from the multifaceted nature of environmental sustainability of IT. This study not only takes consideration of IT resources, but also involves resources from organizational and environmental perspectives, providing a more comprehensive and clear approach of key resource identification.

This study has significant implications on practice as well. For practitioners, this study proposes a comprehensive and empirically supported framework to provide valuable insights into how green leadership is achieved. The key resources are clearly specified and key actions in each phase are in certain sequence, which provides a practical guideline for the senior management who hope to conduct green IT initiatives or examine the progress of their existing green programs, especially for those who expect to achieve the green leadership in the industry community. The framework would be further improved with future practice experience.

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