Experimental Evidence on Decision-Making in Availability Service Level Agreements

Franke, Ulrik and Buschle, Markus (2016) Experimental Evidence on Decision-Making in Availability Service Level Agreements. IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management, 13 (1). pp. 58-70. ISSN 1932-4537

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As more enterprises buy information technology services, studying their underpinning contracts becomes more important. With cloud computing and outsourcing, these service level agreements (SLAs) are now often the only link between the business and the supporting IT services. This paper presents an experimental economics investigation of decision-making with regard to availability SLAs, among enterprise IT professionals. The method and the ecologically valid subjects make the study unique to date among IT service SLA studies. The experiment consisted of pairwise choices under uncertainty, and subjects (N=46) were incentivized by payments based on one of their choices, randomly selected. The research question investigated in this paper is: Do enterprise IT professionals maximize expected value when procuring availability SLAs, as would be optimal from the business point of view? The main result is that enterprise IT professionals fail to maximize expected value. Whereas some subjects do maximize expected value, others are risk-seeking, risk-averse, or exhibit nonmonotonic preferences. The nonmonotonic behavior in particular is an interesting observation, which has no obvious explanation in the literature. For a subset of the subjects (N=29), a few further hypotheses related to associations between general attitude to risk or professional experience on the one hand, and behavior in SLAs on the other hand, were investigated. No support for these associations was found. The results should be interpreted with caution, due to the limited number of subjects. However, given the prominence of SLAs in modern IT service management, the results are interesting and call for further research, as they indicate that current professional decision-making regarding SLAs can be improved. In particular, if general attitude to risk and professional experience do not impact decision-making with regard to SLAs, more extensive use of decision-support systems might be called for in order to facilitate proper risk management.

Item Type:Article
ID Code:6088
Deposited By:Ulrik Franke
Deposited On:09 Dec 2016 10:03
Last Modified:09 Dec 2016 10:03

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