Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Information Society Needs of Managers in a Large Governmental Organisation

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Information Society Needs of Managers in a Large Governmental Organisation

Article excerpt

Introduction

The organisation, the technology, the employees as well as the information society each play an important role in dealing effectively with information and communication technology and they influence each other. Especially managers play an important role in firstly implementing new technologies in the working environment and secondly in motivating their staff to use the information, communication and the technology effectively. Yet managers often struggle to define their role in the new work situation. In this paper some answers are given to the question: What are the reported experiences of managers regarding information and communication technology in their working environment? Working from the perspective of a person who is responsible for facilitating learning in a large governmental organisation in Europe, we wanted to know two things. Firstly, what ICT skills do they already have that we may draw upon when creating a culture of learning in an organisation? Secondly what are the ICT skills required by middle managers?

Literature shows that managers play an essential role in managing information as well as implementing information and communication technology in organisations (Hargrove, 2001; Kluytmans, 2005; Boonstra, 2005). This is a complex process for which managers are often not sufficiently prepared (Beijen, Broos & Lucas, 2003). Hence it appears important to research the area of information and communication technology in the work environment further from the perspective of managers in order to identify needs for further development as well as for performance support in this regard. Yukl (2006) also calls for research in which more insight is obtained in how managers deal with information and communication technology in the working environment. Furthermore, Davenport & Prusak (1997) argue that in order to optimize any information system, it is important to investigate the human interactions with the system as well as their interpretation of the system in the context of their working environment. This leads us to the important question if managers are indeed ready and prepared to deal effectively with the adjusted ways of working required in the information society by using information and communication technology. Such information will be valuable when determining the ICT literacy requirements for management training, as well as determining the extent to which ICT would be a suitable conduit for management education.

Literature survey

Feather (2004, P. 209) states that "the information society can perhaps best be understood as a society that has developed information technology and is learning to use it."

The technology in the information society has made the current level of globalization and the sharing of information possible through international networks and mobile technologies (Boonstra, 2005; Hargrove, 2001; Feather, 2004) and the amount of available information is increasing exponentially. Managers are confronted with the task of implementing changes and innovations as organisations continue to adjust to the requirements of the information society (Hargrove, 2001; Boonstra, 2005). Technology makes alternative ways of working possible and the requirements of the information society are such that implementing alternative ways of working are necessary to adjust to the changed requirements. Hargrove (2001) has noticed that managers could play a crucial role in this regard on three different levels: firstly in influencing the strategy of the organisation in this regard, secondly in implementing the new strategy and thirdly in influencing their subordinates in participating in the new ways of working and using ICT. However there are also authors that warn that the technology of the information society can never replace the social networks and resources that make learning and working possible (Brown & Duguid, 2000).

Our research identified the following components of adjusted ways of working and leading for managers in the information society (Broos, 2007):

* Participating in a learning organisation, knowledge management and communities of practice

* Competency management

* ICT-Security awareness management

* Innovation and change management

In the following section the literature pertaining to each of the components is discussed. …

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