Increasingly, companies are drawing on capacities provided by external consultants to design and execute strategic IT initiatives. However, despite evidence of the impact of such services on IT performance, little is still known about the roles external consultants serve in relation to specific strategic IT initiatives and how companies can draw effectively on their services. The paper investigates the use of consultants in relation to one type of major strategic IT initiative: acquisition IT integration. Acquisition IT integration, which is the integration of the acquirer’s and target’s IT following a corporate acquisition, presents a difficult but crucial IT challenge for the many acquiring organizations. Through a comparative case study of four acquirers, theoretically grounded in the resource-based view of the firm, it is analyzed how acquirers draw on external consultants to realize acquisition IT integration. Two complementary and two supplementary roles consultants assume in these projects are identified. Additionally, three characteristics of the acquisition IT integration strategy are identified that influence how the acquirers assign different roles to IT consultants. The resulting model, depicting the use of external consultants in acquisition IT integration, contributes to the literature on acquisition IT integration by providing an explanation for IT-based value creation in acquisition that is rooted in the external of the acquirer. In addition to adding to the limited, but highly relevant, extant literature on acquisition IT integration, the study also provides general insights into the use of consultants to address strategic IT initiatives.
- IT integration
- Resource-based view