AIS alignment in small and medium sized firms
The concept of alignment orfit has been discussed in the literature, both in accounting and information systems (IS). Most of prior studies either focused on the alignment between accounting information systems (AIS) and contingency factors or information technology (IT) and contingency factors. However, none has attempted to investigate the alignment between organisational information requirements and information processing capacity. This study helps to fill this gap by exploring the alignment of AIS requirement and AIS capacity among Malaysian manufacturing SMEs with less than 250 employees, and examining its impact on performance. Using a mail survey, datafrom 310firms was collected on nineteen AIS characteristics so that AIS requirement and AIS capacity could be compared. Data was also collected on firm performance, information systems (IS) success, various contingency factors and standard demographics. Based on the nineteen AIS characteristics, the measurement of AIS alignment was explored visually and using two analytic measurement methods: (1) the 'moderation' approach and (2) the 'matching' approach. Using cluster analysis, three distinct groups of SMEs were identified for both approaches. The results indicated that a significant proportion of Malaysian SMEs had achieved high AIS alignment. The group of SMEs which has a higher degree of AIS alignment was found to achieve greater IS success and better organisational performance than the group of SMEs with a lower degree of AIS alignment. Interestingly, the findings of this study also indicate that AIS alignment is positively related to the level of IT sophistication, CEO commitment to IT, and internal expertise, AIS capacity is positively related to the level of IT sophistication, but there was little evidence of the contingency factors affecting AIS requirement. Further, the findings of this study also provide support for past observation that the 'moderation' approach of measuring fit is more meaningful than the 'matching' approach when performance criterion is included in the research model. In summary, this study has deepened current understanding of AIS alignment, and has provided useful insights for CEOs of SMEs in planning their IS implementation. More importantly, it opens up possibilities for further study of AIS alignment in SMEs, both in Malaysia and on a global basis.