The inability to demonstrate the economic payoffs from investments in information technology (IT) has become known as the "productivity paradox". One would think that the value of large investments in IT should be easy to demonstrate. But despite the lack of clear connection between IT and economic return, investments in IT continue to represent a significant portion of capital expenditures throughout the world. In this paper, we argue that the symbolic role of IT may help to explain the absence of demonstrable economic reasons for IT investments. An organization may implicitly justify the acquisition and possession of IT because of its symbolic importance rather than its economic value. IT's symbolic role may have an indirect effect on economic performance, especially in cases where an organization is able to sustain its legitimacy and survive within an institutional environment. Thus, we consider a symbolic analysis of investments in IT to complement more circumscribed economic analyses.