Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Managerial Perceptions in the Application of Information Technology in the Public and Private Sector in Zimbabwe

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Managerial Perceptions in the Application of Information Technology in the Public and Private Sector in Zimbabwe

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The computer is now one of the most commonly used modern information technology devices in the world today. To add to this, there is also a proliferation of software programs that can be used with these computers. While computers are now standard desktop devices in business and educational environments in developed countries, their impact in developed countries remains largely undocumented. There is no real measure in how information technology has had an impact in developing countries like Zimbabwe (Best, 1981). When something has been mentioned, it has largely been based on casual observation and anecdotal evidence (Mahmood, 1989).

In general, a great deal has been written on the importance of applying principles of information technology in business, government and commercial enterprises without clearly defining what information technology is to begin with. What is information technology? What makes it important in decreasing the knowledge deficit behavior among users?

Knowledge, according to the Webster dictionary, is used to refer to the state of understanding the troth or fact. If data are taken to mean unstructured, uninformed facts, then information is the communication of knowledge. Information can, therefore, be considered as selected and evaluated data that reduce ignorance or uncertainty in a decision-making process (Boulden, 1975). Data refer to facts that have not been evaluated by specific decision-makers in a particular situation. Information, in contrast, is relative material that has been evaluated with respect to the user and to the time and place that it is going to be used. It should be emphasized here that material that is information for one manager may lack any value to another decision-maker. By definition, the amount of information needed by a decision-maker is usually proportional to the uncertainty surrounding the situation.

Information is obtained after subjecting data to a series of computer-based processing operations which convert related groups of meaningless data into a meaningful and coherent form (O'Brien, 1996). It can be output, for example, in printed form, graphically displayed on a video display terminal, or in some form of statistical representation.

On the other hand technology is the general term for the processes by which human beings fashion tools and machines to increase their control and understanding of the material or information environment. In short, information technology can therefore be considered as the science of communicating knowledge derived from facts.

RATIONAL

A preliminary study revealed that despite the current hype and research about how better management of information technology can create competitive advantage and enable corporate transformation, it appears a significant number of senior managers and chief executives of a lot of Zimbabwean organizations have limited computer skills (Jensen, 1995). The same audit also showed that most of the CEO's and senior managers who were approached felt they were not qualified to discuss IT issues and instead referred all matters relating to this area to their engineering, production or finance department.

For information technology to be applied in any given entity, there must be managers assigned to running the affairs of that environment. Management can be defined as the person or persons that manage an organization. It is best to conceptualize management in organizations as existing on three broad categories or horizontal levels. These are operational control (overseeing the operational details of the organization), managerial planning and control (tactical management), and strategic management (looking at broader and proactive levels of organizational control).

This study focuses on the use of information technology in tactical management and broader levels of control of organizational behavior. …

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