Gary Klein, Information and Software Technology

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Gary Klein, Information and Software Technology

Parolia, N., Chen, J. V., Jiang, J. J., Klein, G. S.

Conflict resolution effectiveness on the implementation efficiency and achievement of business objectives in IT programs: A study of IT vendors

The information technology (IT) field presents a unique context for the management of multiple projects because of the variety of stakeholders involved, the complexity of interdependencies among projects, and the frequent use of external vendors. In practice, IT vendors typically employ advanced project governance techniques such as program management to work effectively with the numbers and variety of clients while still pursuing the benefits of a single oversight. These structural features lend themselves to conflict across teams with individual requirements. However, little research exists on program management, much less in the IT context, that represents conflict across IT project teams.



The interdependencies across projects in large information technology (IT) implementations means that the traditional boundaries of project management do not hold and that collaboration in the form of program management is essential to avoid conflict and eventual failure [1]. Yet programs by their nature are complex due to managing interrelated projects with multiple managers in a resource limited environment, with differing and often conflicting needs, emergent inputs and conditions affecting the process, and elevated ambiguity [2], [3] and [4]. Thus, the program structure is inherently unique because it brings together the diverse interests of many teams, resulting in conflict associated with inter-team relationships instead of intra-team relationships [5]. Mutual interdependence, goal differences, and limited resources of IT projects coupled with a need for joint decision making are but a subset of the factors which cause inter-project conflict in a technology program. Conflicts further emerge when there are duplication of activities across IT projects or when activities in one project may diminish the outcomes of another [6]. The inability of parties to resolve conflict satisfactorily is a critical reason for relationship failure and eventual dissolution of the structure necessary in the completion of assigned activities [7]. Understanding the effects of conflict resolution is crucial to attaining success in this unique context that is gaining widespread application in the IT field, especially in the more complex arenas as the implementation of enterprise resource planning systems and development of client systems by vendors [8], [9] and [10].