In the last ten years (that I have been doing research and teaching at Mälardalen University) I have studied how information technology has become increasingly important in companies’ activities – in their daily business as well as in its implications for firms in general. What occurs to me is that, when the issue becomes a topic of academic research, information technology is studied from different perspectives in different areas of research – sometimes it is treated as a topic in itself, and sometimes as part of a business strategy or marketing activity. I have often asked myself when information technology will become regarded as an aspect of the business administration taught at universities. To some extent I think it already is, although it is not yet formally considered to be an aspect of business administration.
As a lecturer, I have focused mainly on international business. In many of the seminars that I have lead, the issue of information technology has been discussed as something that the students believe will change the way that multinational enterprises can and do coordinate and control their organisations and acquire the information they need concerning their markets. (The use of information technology states that that is the case). The issue of how and to what end multinational enterprises use information technology has often been raised, but it seems that the literature comes up short in providing a holistic view of this matter. There are many studies on different aspects, and some of them present empirical data, but it seems there is a lack of major contemporary studies showing general results on the phenomenon of information technology in multinational enterprises. This is no surprise, since a study of this kind would cost a great deal of resources in terms of time as well as professors and doctoral candidates.
This book is a work that partly fills the gap in the literature. It discusses and assembles literature on information technology as a feature of the multinational enterprise, but to some extent it also theorises on the role of IT in multinational enterprises. The students behind this work have carried out extensive literature reviews in many of the fields that encompass information technology in business in general and in large international companies in particular. They have arranged the literature and present it in a way they think is suitable in order to provide an overall picture of information technology in multinational enterprises. The study of the literature has thrown up questions, which have been asked of representatives of multinational companies and so “cases” are presented, i.e.Iexamples demonstrating the use of information technology. As a whole, this book fulfils its aim, which is to present the use of information technology in multinational companies in theory and in practice and to show that information technology as used by companies is a part of business administration as we know it. Of course there are questions that remain unanswered. Some of them are stated as topics for further research at the end of this work.
I feel content to use this book as a textbook on undergraduate courses dealing with the management of multinational enterprises, since the use of information technology is an important part of these. I feel proud that it is my students who (may I add, without much help from my part) have produced this work.
Cecilia Lindh, supervisor
Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2012.