Information Systems Education Conference
ISECON Proceedings

2011 ISECON Proceedings
Wilmington NC

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Abstract Presentation

Corporate Boards and Technology: What they need to know

Cameron Lawrence
School of Business Administration / The University of Montana

Michael Harrington
School of Business / University of Montana

Chris Warden
CIO, Washington Corporation

Abstract
Effective corporate governance has emerged as a central issue in the contemporary business environ-ment. Because of regulatory issues and shareholder activism, boards have increasingly come under pressure to improve in almost all areas including member composition. Much has been written around the area of corporate governance and the scholarship in this area is becoming widely distributed. However, it appears there has been little commentary or research around the topic of corporate gov-ernance and its role in the oversight of IT function in organizations. This project intends to better link the MIS discipline with the growing research on corporate governance. This project has two distinct streams. The first is to identify the key areas and topics related to IT governance that board members should understand. The second stream seeks to analyze the composition of current Fortune 500 boards to determine the extent and nature of the technical expertise of board members.

Description
In many organizational settings, the effective use of technology and its relationship to firm strategy are top priorities for senior manage-ment. Furthermore, technology based initiatives represent significant economic and human capi-tal investments in today’s firms. Because of the obvious significance of technology in modern business, we are surprised by the fact that so little has been written about the role of the board and its oversight and responsibility of this critical business asset. Due to the paucity of re-search in this area, we are motivated to system-atically examine and then contribute to over-coming this shortcoming. This project is com-prised of two research streams that we believe will represent novel and original contributions. We describe each stream below. Stream 1: The participating authors of this paper all have considerable experience as members of the board of directors for relatively large corpora-tions and non-profits alike. The practical per-spective the authors bring through experience, coupled with the work of Weill and Applegate as well as other experts in IT governance, will be used to establish the key areas of which non-technical directors need to be aware. CIOs and directors of several companies will also be inter-viewed. In part, this work can be considered an extension of the work undertaken by Andriole (2009) who revealed the lack of technology oversight exhibited by most boards. Stream 2: What is the current level tech-nology management experience in the For-tune 500 boardroom? The aim of our second stream is to systematical-ly examine board composition of the Fortune 500 to determine the level of technical exper-tise. This will be undertaken with a team of graduate students during the next academic year. Conclusion: We believe this project can clearly be enriched by discussing both streams with colleagues at ISECON as collegial feedback is greatly appreci-ated.

Recommended Citation: Lawrence, C., Harrington, M., Warden, C., (2011). The Proceedings of the Information Systems Education Conference, v.28 n.1783, Wilmington NC.