Strategic alignment or "fit" is a notion that is deemed crucial in understanding how organizations can translate their deployment of information technology (IT) into actual increases in performance. While previous theoretical and methodological works have provided foundations for identifying the dimensions and performance impacts of the strategic alignment between IT, strategy, and structure, few attempts have been made to test the proposed theory empirically and operationalize fit systemically. Based on a gestalt perspective of fit and theory-based ideal coalignment patterns, an operational model of strategic alignment is proposed and empirically validated through a mail survey of 110 small firms. Using cluster analysis, it was found that low-performance firms exhibited a conflictual coalignment pattern of business strategy, business structure, IT strategy, and IT structure that distinguished them from other firms. © 2003 Elsevier B. V. Ali rights reserved.