An Empirical Examination of the Effects of CTO Leadership on the Alignment of the Governance of Big Data and Information Security Risk Management Effectiveness

Shannon Block, Steven Munkeby, Samuel Sambasivam
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 18  •  2021  •  pp. 041-061
Aim/Purpose: Board of Directors seek to use their big data as a competitive advantage. Still, scholars note the complexities of corporate governance in practice related to information security risk management (ISRM) effectiveness.

Background: While the interest in ISRM and its relationship to organizational success has grown, the scholarly literature is unclear about the effects of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) leadership styles, the alignment of the governance of big data, and ISRM effectiveness in organizations in the West-ern United States.

Methodology: The research method selected for this study was a quantitative, correlational research design. Data from 139 participant survey responses from Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) in the Western United States were analyzed using 3 regression models to test for mediation following Baron and Kenny’s methodology.

Contribution: Previous scholarship has established the importance of leadership styles, big data governance, and ISRM effectiveness, but not in a combined understanding of the relationship between all three variables. The researchers’ primary objective was to contribute valuable knowledge to the practical field of computer science by empirically validating the relationships between the CTOs leadership styles, the alignment of the governance of big data, and ISRM effectiveness.

Findings: The results of the first regression model between CTOs leadership styles and ISRM effectiveness were statistically significant. The second regression model results between CTOs leadership styles and the alignment of the governance of big data were not statistically significant. The results of the third regression model between CTOs leadership styles, the alignment of the governance of big data, and ISRM effectiveness were statistically significant. The alignment of the governance of big data was a significant predictor in the model. At the same time, the predictive strength of all 3 CTOs leadership styles was diminished between the first regression model and the third regression model. The regression models indicated that the alignment of the governance of big data was a partial mediator of the relationship between CTOs leadership styles and ISRM effectiveness.

Recommendations for Practitioners: With big data growing at an exponential rate, this research may be useful in helping other practitioners think about how to test mediation with other interconnected variables related to the alignment of the governance of big data. Overall, the alignment of governance of big data being a partial mediator of the relationship between CTOs leadership styles and ISRM effectiveness suggests the significant role that the alignment of the governance of big data plays within an organization.

Recommendations for Researchers: While this exact study has not been previously conducted with these three variables with CTOs in the Western United States, overall, these results are in agreement with the literature that information security governance does not significantly mediate the relationship between IT leadership styles and ISRM. However, some of the overall findings did vary from the literature, including the predictive relationship between transactional leadership and ISRM effectiveness. With the finding of partial mediation indicated in this study, this also suggests that the alignment of the governance of big data provides a partial intervention between CTOs leadership styles and ISRM effectiveness.

Impact on Society: Big data breaches are increasing year after year, exposing sensitive information that can lead to harm to citizens. This study supports the broader scholarly consensus that to achieve ISRM effectiveness, better alignment of governance policies is essential. This research highlights the importance of higher-level governance as it relates to ISRM effectiveness, implying that ineffective governance could negatively impact both leadership and ISRM effectiveness, which could potentially cause reputational harm.

Future Research: This study raised questions about CTO leadership styles, the specific governance structures involved related to the alignment of big data and ISRM effectiveness. While the research around these variables independently is mature, there is an overall lack of mediation studies as it relates to the impact of the alignment of the governance of big data. With the lack of alignment around a universal framework, evolving frameworks could be tested in future research to see if similar results are obtained.
big data, CTO leadership styles, information security risk management effectiveness, and digital transformation
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