Digital strategy aligning in SMEs: A dynamic capabilities perspective

Ana Isabel Canhoto, Sarah Quinton, Rebecca Pera, Sebastián Molinillo, Lyndon Simkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)


Digital strategy alignment is a dominant concern for today's managers and information systems researchers. Yet research in this area remains fragmented, particularly on the digital strategy alignment of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is concerning owing to their value to European economies. Employing dynamic capabilities as an analytical lens, we investigate how 43 British, Irish, Italian, and Spanish SMEs, across five industry sectors, enact digital aligning. We identify a model of digital alignment comprising five phases, which we term “passive acceptance,” “connection,” “immersion,” “fusion,” and “transformation,” as well as the specific combinations of sensing, seizing, and reorganizing capabilities associated with each phase. Our model provides a holistic, practice-based perspective and highlights the role of micro-behaviors and leadership in SMEs implementing digital strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101682
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Strategic Information Systems
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in The Journal of Strategic Information Systems. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, VOL 30, ISS 3, (2021) DOI: 10.1016/j.jsis.2021.101682 © 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders. This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.


This research received funding from Oxford Brookes University, UK, internal small grants award number 0012-15/48.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Digital strategy aligning
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Europe
  • Five-phase model
  • SMEs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management


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