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A quest for theoretical foundations of COBIT 5

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Abstract
COBIT, (Control Objectives for Information and Information related Technologies) as an IT Governance framework is well-known in IS practitioners communities. It would impair the virtues of COBIT to present it only as an IT Governance framework. COBIT analyses the complete IS function and offers descriptive and normative support to manage, govern and audit IT in organizations. Although the framework is well accepted in a broad range of IS communities, it is created by practitioners and therefore it holds only a minor amount of theoretical supported claims. Thus critic rises from the academic community. This work contains research focusing on the theoretical fundamentals of the ISACA framework, COBIT 5 released in 2012. We implemented a reverse engineering work and try to elucidate as much as possible propositions from COBIT 5 as an empiricism. We followed a qualitative research method to develop inductively derived theoretical statements. However our approach differs from the original work on grounded theory by Glaser and Strauss (1967) since we started from a general idea where to begin and we made conceptual descriptions of the empirical statements. So our data was only restructured to reveal theoretical findings. We looked at three candidate theories: 1) Stakeholder Theory (SHT), 2) Principal Agent Theory (PAT), and 3) Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). These three theories are categorized and from each theory, several testable propositions were deduced. We considered the five COBIT 5 principles, five processes (APO13, BAI06, DSS05, MEA03 and EDM03) mainly situated in the area of IS security and four IT-related goals (IT01, IT07, IT10 and IT16). The choice of the processes and IT-related goals are based on an experienced knowledge of COBIT as well of the theories. We constructed a mapping table to find matching patterns. The mapping was done separately by several individuals to increase the internal validity. Our findings indicate that COBIT 5 holds theoretical supported claims. The lower theory types such as PAT and SHT contribute the most. The presence and contribution of a theory is significantly constituted by IT-related goals as compared to the processes. We also make some suggestions for further research. First of all, the work has to be extended to all COBIT 5 processes and IT-related goals. This effort is currently going on. Next we ponder the question what other theories could be considered as candidates for this theoretical reverse engineering labour? During our work we listed already some theories with good potential. Our used pattern matching process can also be refined by bringing in other assessment models. Finally an alternative and more theoretic framework could be designed by using design science research methods and starting with the most relevant IS theories. That could lead to a new IT artefact that eventually could be reconciled with COBIT 5.
Keywords
GOVERNANCE, FAILURE, MANAGERIAL, FRAMEWORK, INFORMATION-SYSTEMS RESEARCH, IT governance, COBIT 5, stakeholder theory, principal agent theory, TAM

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Chicago
Devos, Jan, and Kevin Van De Ginste. 2014. “A Quest for Theoretical Foundations of COBIT 5.” In Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, ed. J Devos and S DeHaes, 73–80. Ghent, Belgium.
APA
Devos, Jan, & Van De Ginste, K. (2014). A quest for theoretical foundations of COBIT 5. In J Devos & S. DeHaes (Eds.), Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation (pp. 73–80). Presented at the 8th European Conference on IS Management and Evaluation (ECIME), Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
Devos J, Van De Ginste K. A quest for theoretical foundations of COBIT 5. In: Devos J, DeHaes S, editors. Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation. Ghent, Belgium; 2014. p. 73–80.
MLA
Devos, Jan, and Kevin Van De Ginste. “A Quest for Theoretical Foundations of COBIT 5.” Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation. Ed. J Devos & S DeHaes. Ghent, Belgium, 2014. 73–80. Print.
@inproceedings{5660400,
  abstract     = {COBIT, (Control Objectives for Information and Information related Technologies) as an IT Governance framework is well-known in IS practitioners communities. It would impair the virtues of COBIT to present it only as an IT Governance framework. COBIT analyses the complete IS function and offers descriptive and normative support to manage, govern and audit IT in organizations. Although the framework is well accepted in a broad range of IS communities, it is created by practitioners and therefore it holds only a minor amount of theoretical supported claims. Thus critic rises from the academic community. This work contains research focusing on the theoretical fundamentals of the ISACA framework, COBIT 5 released in 2012. We implemented a reverse engineering work and try to elucidate as much as possible propositions from COBIT 5 as an empiricism. We followed a qualitative research method to develop inductively derived theoretical statements. However our approach differs from the original work on grounded theory by Glaser and Strauss (1967) since we started from a general idea where to begin and we made conceptual descriptions of the empirical statements. So our data was only restructured to reveal theoretical findings. We looked at three candidate theories: 1) Stakeholder Theory (SHT), 2) Principal Agent Theory (PAT), and 3) Technology Acceptance Model (TAM).  These three theories are categorized and from each theory, several testable propositions were deduced. We considered the five COBIT 5 principles,  five processes (APO13, BAI06, DSS05, MEA03 and EDM03) mainly situated in the area of IS security and four IT-related goals (IT01, IT07, IT10 and IT16). The choice of the processes and IT-related goals are based on an experienced knowledge of COBIT as well of the theories. We constructed a mapping table to find matching patterns. The mapping was done separately by several individuals to increase the internal validity. Our findings indicate that COBIT 5 holds theoretical supported claims. The lower theory types such as PAT and SHT contribute the most. The presence and contribution of a theory is significantly constituted by IT-related goals as compared to the processes. We also make some suggestions for further research. First of all, the work has to be extended to all COBIT 5 processes and IT-related goals. This effort is currently going on. Next we ponder the question what other theories could be considered as candidates for this theoretical reverse engineering labour? During our work we listed already some theories with good potential. Our used pattern matching process can also be refined by bringing in other assessment models. Finally an alternative and more theoretic framework could be designed by using design science research methods and starting with the most relevant IS theories. That could lead to a new IT artefact that eventually could be reconciled with COBIT 5.},
  author       = {Devos, Jan and Van De Ginste, Kevin},
  booktitle    = {Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation},
  editor       = {Devos, J and DeHaes, S },
  isbn         = {9781910309438},
  issn         = {2048-8912},
  keywords     = {GOVERNANCE,FAILURE,MANAGERIAL,FRAMEWORK,INFORMATION-SYSTEMS RESEARCH,IT governance,COBIT 5,stakeholder theory,principal agent theory,TAM},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Ghent, Belgium},
  pages        = {73--80},
  title        = {A quest for theoretical foundations of COBIT 5},
  year         = {2014},
}

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