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The gap in understanding between the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the top management team (TMT) has often been cited as a cause of a troubled CIO/TMT relationship. Recent research has proposed the development of a shared understanding about the role of information systems (IS) in the organization as a key endeavor in bridging the "gap in understanding" between CIOs and TMT members. The authors propose a variety of knowledge exchange mechanisms, as well as relational similarity as key mechanisms for the development of this shared understanding. This study examines the cross-cultural efficacy of such mechanisms. Specifically, the study compares the development of this shared understanding between ClOs and the TMT in U.S. and French organizations. The research model is empirically tested using structural equation modeling via a field survey with two data samples: 1) 163 U.S. CIOs and 2) 44 French ClOs. The results show both similarities and differences in these mechanisms. Specifically, in both samples, CIO educational mechanisms impact the development of a shared understanding. However, while in the French sample social systems of knowing are key mechanisms, in the U.S. sample structural systems of knowing and relational similarity are key mechanisms of achieving a shared understanding between the CIO and TMT.
Date of Publication: May 2006