Title

Relationships Between Internet Usage and Learning Organization Characteristics in American and Thai Universities

Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Management Systems (Sc.D.)

Department

Management

First Advisor

Judith A. Neal

Second Advisor

Michael Morris

Third Advisor

Parbudyal Singh

LC Subject Headings

Internet users--United States, Internet users--Thailand, Universities and colleges--Faculty, Universities and colleges--Thailand, Universities and colleges--United States

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS 36 .N290 Mgmt. Syst. 2001 no. 1

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore faculty perceptions of Learning Organization characteristics in their universities, and the relationships of these perceived characteristics to faculty Internet usage. The study employs Senge’s (1990) definition of a Learning Organization: “an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.”

One of the previous research studies by Fowler (1997), which combined qualitative and quantitative methods in an exploratory case study of one university library using interviews with librarians and technical staff, offered evidence that “organizational learning occurs through a series of vehicles that function at one or more of the levels identified: individual, department or team and organizational.” In addition, Fowler (1997) stated that use of the Internet, including the World Wide Web, was a significant variable that served as an outcome variable of his study; included were use of the Internet and Internet-related tasks.

Research by Marchi (1999), which was done mostly in corporations, found that Learning Organizations use the Internet to a greater extent than Non-Learning Organizations. They also use Internet tools such as e-mail and World Wide Web differently than Non-Learning Organizations. In addition to relying on Marchi’s (1999) work, my study compares this relationship in the universities of two different countries: the United States and Thailand. Although there is one previous research study of Internet usage by Michels (1996) similar to this study, the sample was two-year colleges in the United States, and the research did not focus on Learning Organization theory.

My research question is: Is there a relationship between business school faculty usage of the Internet and Learning Organization characteristics in the United States and Thailand Universities? Two research propositions are as follows:

1. Business school faculty who perceive higher levels of Learning Organization characteristics in their universities will also report higher amounts of Internet usage, more types of Internet Usage and more types of Internet work applications (teaching, research and consulting) than business school faculty who perceive lower levels of Learning Organization characteristics.

2. Overall, the United States business school faculty will report higher levels of Learning Organization characteristics and the greater amounts of Internet use, types of Internet use and types of Internet work applications (teaching, research and consulting) than Thai business school faculty.

I conducted this study by distributing a questionnaire in both the United States and Thailand. Questionnaires were distributed to 1,000 faculty members in 200 business schools in the United States and 200 faculty members in 25 business schools in Thailand. There were 245 respondents in the United States and 99 respondents from Thailand. The Learning Organization portion of the survey was constructed from previously tested instruments. In this study, dependent variables that were measured included: amount of Internet usage; types of Internet usage; and work applications of Internet usage. The control variables included individual and organizational demographics.

The main components of Learning Organizations that were assessed in the survey are leadership, culture, structures and processes, and managing people as assets. In a Learning Organization, these elements allow the members to share, work as a team, use interactive communication and allow information to flow. The more of these elements a company or university adheres to, the closer it will come to becoming a Learning Organization when combined with Learning Organization characteristics (Economist Intelligence Unit and IBM Corporation, 1996).

The main findings of this study included: (1) there is a relationship between business school faculty usage of the Internet and Learning Organization characteristics in the United States and Thailand Universities in term of leadership, culture, and structure and process. (2) There was no significant relationship between Learning Organization characteristics and amount of hours spent on Internet usage. However, there was a significant positive relationship between Learning Organization characteristics in terms of leadership and more types of Internet usage; there were significant positive relationships between Learning Organization characteristics in terms of culture dimension and work applications for teaching and research, and in terms of structure and process dimension and work applications for consulting. (3) There was a significant difference in the mean of Learning Organization characteristics in leadership and structure and process dimension in terms of the United States business school faculty being lower than Thai business school faculty. In addition, the mean of Internet tools was lower while the mean of Internet usage for research for United States business school faculty was higher. Also, there was a significant difference in the mean of Internet usage for consulting for United States business school faculty which was lower than Thai business school faculty. There was no significant difference in the amount of hours and in the use of the Internet for teaching for United States business school faculty and Thai business school faculty.

One contribution of this research is the addition of individual and organizational characteristics as factors impacting Internet usage. The most factors that impact Internet usage are level of computer literacy and a positive attitude toward the importance of Internet usage. These factors have a positive significant relationship to the amount of hours, use of Internet tools and work applications in terms of teaching, research and consulting.

The implications for the management and academic administrators are also discussed based on the findings. For example, it is important that culture, which is one of the Learning Organization characteristics, needs to be considered when it is recommended that faculty members use the Internet for teaching and research which might increase the five learning disciplines of Learning Organization. However, administrators need to focus on individual characteristics such as the level of computer literacy and faculty’s attitude toward the importance of Internet usage. In regard to organizational characteristics, it is important for faculty to have computers in their offices and Information Technology (IT) staff support such as training and workshops. Thus, university administrations in both the United States and Thailand should work with their human resources management department to aid their faculty in the information era.

The involvement of the faculty in utilizing the connections of the Internet for teaching, research and consulting are also discussed based on the findings. For example, it is important that business school faculty should be aggressively engaged in learning Internet tools and work applications in order to implement innovative approaches on how to use technology for leveraging resources and group dynamics. In the final discussion, because of the limitations of this research, future research is recommended by expanding the studies to different types of schools within the universities.

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