e their IT capabilities, and organizational learning will play a very important role in this process. Organizational learning mainly enhances firm’s IT capabilities through training and project practice. Effective training can undoubtedly enhance staff’s IT technical capacity and IT management capabilities. Especially with the wide use of Internet and Intranet technologies in firms, online training has become an important way of training. In addition to training, project practice is another effective way of organizational learning. Employees can not only “learning by doing” (including self-study in the project practice, mutual learning among colleagues, learning from outside experts and consultants, etc.), and can also strengthen relationships with colleagues, customers and external partners through the project practice and collaboration.

3) Focusing on investment in complementary resources

IT resources alone does not guarantee a firm to gain competitive advantage, therefore firm should not only invest in IT resources, but also pay attention to invest in the corresponding complementary resources, such as the organization’s business processes and regulations system.

Firstly, firms need to digitize and optimize their business processes to achieve business process automation and visualize, that can not only improve the efficiency of firms, but the key is to enable firms to rapidly perceived customer needs and the variety of internal and external changes and problems, and make timely response.

Secondly, firms should establish an appropriate rules and regulations system, including the authorization of employees and reasonable incentives. Employees should be granted access to more of the required information and use that information and give them the right to make decisions, this will help to establish a flat corporate structure in order to reduce administrative costs and improve the speed of decision-making. Meanwhile, firms should establish reasonable performance-based salary system to motivate employees to use the right of information access and decision-making to complete their work more outstanding and creatively.

6. Conclusions

This paper proposed an integrated process model of how IT impacts firm’s competitive advantage, based on the process theory, complementary asset theory, IT resource theory, IT capability theory, and organizational learning theory. The model suggests that IT capability plays an important moderate role in the “IT conversion process” and “IT use process”, firms should constantly improve and update their IT capabilities through organizational learning, and pay more attention to develop corresponding complementary resources, such as organization’s business processes and culture. This model not only provides an explanation of how IT brings competitive advantage, but also can provide effective guidance for firms to use IT to obtain sustainable competitive advantage.

In the future, the model proposed by this paper can be extended by other theories and research, and more empirical studies are needed to check this model.


This work was supported in part by NSFC under Grant Nos. 70902025 and 91124004, Guangdong soft science project under Grant Nos. 2010B070300043.


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