Software-as-a-service enterprise applications impact in firm performance

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Software-as-a-service has grown exponentially in the last decade, even in the enterprise applications area where usually the implementations are more customized in order to support the business processes implemented in the organizations. However, in the information systems research, there are few pieces of evidence of work in the IT-based business value stream, regarding the intermediate-process level and strategic performance generated, and about the contribution or influence of other cross-discipline factors such as business strategy, organizational and human resources. The work performed in this dissertation intended to answer questions like: a. what is the impact on firm performance, of the capabilities of an organization that uses software-as-a-service enterprise applications? and b. how does business strategy, strategic alignment and human talent influence the level of firm performance created, in the context of organizations using software-as-a-service enterprise applications? Since the beginning and along the way, the literature review revealed very scarce work in the area of IT-based business value of software-as-a-service enterprise applications, if any of relevance till 2018. In the early stages of our research, we did qualitative work to compare the points of view of specialists from a software vendor, and of organizations managers that had already adopted and used an ERP in cloud computing for some time. So, considering a lifecycle that goes from the intention to adopt and use, till the value extracted, it emerged that financial benefits are the main factor for adoption and usage, confirming that this is an essential subject to study. In the following steps of the research, we made quantitative work creating dual-theory frameworks which were operationalized through questionnaires, answered by a majority of decision-makers in the target organizations. The first quantitative model was based on resource-based-view and competitive strategy theories, and the results of 257 companies in Portugal allowed to assess that the impact of firm capabilities supported by software-as-a-service enterprise applications is felt indirectly on the creation of firm performance, through the impact of intermediate-process level performance, which we name business value. Both business value and business strategy proved to be important mediators in the creation of the firm performance. The following work exploited the relevance of human talent, namely human capital and users IT-proficiency, with a model based on dynamic capabilities and human capital theories, and the results of 256 North American companies revealed that capabilities supported by software-as-a-service enterprise applications are more impactful in firm performance than business-IT strategic alignment, and in cases that this alignment is low it will be important to have high users IT-proficiency. In conclusion, this research confirmed that organizations that adopt and use software-as-a-service enterprise applications can expect an impact both in their business value and firm performance but should make their choices according to the business strategy chosen and aligned with the IT management. Furthermore, organizations that invest in their human capital and IT-proficiency skills can also expect a higher level of impact from the usage of those applications in software-as-a-service.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS)
  • Oliveira, Tiago, Supervisor
  • Ruivo, Pedro, Advisor
Award date23 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020


  • Business-IT strategic alignment
  • Business strategy
  • Business value
  • Cloud enterprise applications
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Enterprise applications
  • Alinhamento estratégico negócios-TI
  • Estratégia de negócios
  • Valor para o negócio
  • Aplicações empresariais na nuvem
  • Recursos dinâmicos
  • Aplicações empresariais


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