Human Capital and E-Learning: Developing Knowledge Through Virtual Networks

Human Capital and E-Learning: Developing Knowledge Through Virtual Networks

M. Eugenia Fabra (University of Valencia, Spain) and Cesar Camison (Universitat Jaume I, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-070-7.ch010
OnDemand PDF Download:


Companies are increasingly conscious of the fact that the achieving of their objectives, together with the improvement of their competitive advantages, depends on the appropriate management of the human factor. The dynamism and strong competition that characterize the business world make it increasingly necessary to introduce a system of human resources to allow the exploiting of the knowledge and skills of both people and teams, thus encouraging their learning capacity. In this context, e-learning is becoming established as a flexible and quick way of improving the acquiring of knowledge and skills within a company. The rapid growth and expansion of e-learning, together with the failure of some of its projects, has made the development of various assessment approaches a necessity. Given the importance of this aspect, the aim of this study is to analyze the progress that has been made in the quality of e-learning initiatives.
Chapter Preview


Globalization, rapid technological innovation, and deregulation in certain sectors have been changes that have had a strong impact on the structure of the markets, and have consequently caused changes to the business environment. Some of these changes are connected to the shifting of the basis of competitive success. The physical, financial, and even technological assets that were a source of differentiation in the industrial economy are no longer sufficient, as they tend to be available to all under equal conditions. In contrast, people and the way in which they are managed are becoming more and more important.

The literature insists on the fact that human resources constitute the most valuable asset and the most difficult to imitate, mainly because most of their characteristics are tacit and complex (Wright, et al, 1994; Boxall, 1996; Kamoche, 1996). The reserve of human capital in a company thus becomes one of the main stimulators of its competitive advantage, and depends on the strategic management of these human resources in order to develop and maintain them (D’Aveni, 1999)

In this context it can be said that a system of human resources that allows companies to exploit the existing knowledge of people and teams, thus encouraging their learning capacity, is what is necessary (Koch and McGrath, 1996; Kamoche and Mueller, 1998). In dynamic environments, indeed, the company’s skill in learning faster than its competitors may be the only sustainable source of competitive advantage (Stata, 1989; McGill and Slocum, 1993: Nevis et al, 1995; Lei, Slocul and Pitts, 1999). In the words of Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), the only companies that will be successful are those that consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it throughout the company, and rapidly incorporate new technologies and products.

For the Resources and Skills Theory, knowledge is consolidated as one of the most important strategic resources that the company has with which to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Faced with this situation, companies are becoming aware of the importance of the development of human capital as an element generating organizational knowledge, together with organizational learning as an essential part of the development of this knowledge.

The literature gives various definitions of learning. Montes, Pérez, and Vázquez (2002) define it as the dynamic process of the creation, acquisition, and integration of knowledge aimed at the development of recourses and skills that allows a company to improve its operations. Martínez, Ruiz, and Ruiz (2001) refer to it as the process allowing individuals and/or companies to acquire knowledge or skills based on a certain concept, or how to make a certain thing or why this is done, transforming the information that reaches them into knowledge through the said learning process.

There are various ways at the disposal of companies in which their employees can acquire knowledge. Itami and Roehl (1987) show two:

  • Professional practice where employees can acquire knowledge through their experience, having conversations with colleagues or managing company information.—Continuous training to eliminate lack of knowledge and provide with new skills to the human resources.

The part placed by new information and communication technologies in the process of the creation of knowledge is that of introducing alternatives into the information transformation cycle. According to Nonaka (1991), in the data-information-knowledge cycle the last named factor is the result of the efficient management of the other two dimensions. The importance of new technologies is above all their effect on data and information accessibility, this contributing to the creation of the third. As we make process in the knowledge generation cycle the degree of human participation increases as it is consolidated as an information processor (Daveport, 1999). New technologies are therefore necessary tools but are not enough for the service that people need (Sáez Vacas, 1991). The following figure shows the differences among data, information and knowledge.

Figure 1.

Data-information-knowledge (Source: J.L. Lara (2000), © 2008 MaEugenia Fabra and Cesar Camisón. Used with permission.)

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Knowledge Management and Virtual Organizations
Chapter 1
Fernando Garrigos
This chapter presents the interrelationships between professional virtual communities and social networks, and analyzes how, and in what ways, these... Sample PDF
Interrelationships Between Professional Virtual Communities and Social Networks, and the Importance of Virtual Communities in Creating and Sharing Knowledge
Chapter 2
Luis V. Casaló
The rapid growth of virtual communities has created a new interest in researchers. Indeed, understanding these communities is especially relevant... Sample PDF
The Role of Trust, Satisfaction, and Communication in the Development of Participation in Virtual Communities
Chapter 3
Cesar Camison
Organisations are finding it more difficult to keep abreast with the pace of change. The continuous rise of business opportunities and the increase... Sample PDF
Can Virtual Networks Encourage Knowledge Absorptive Capacity?
Chapter 4
Montserrat Boronat Navarro
In this study we adopt an inter-organizational view to examine virtual organizations. Thus, we understand this phenomenon as a strategic agreement... Sample PDF
Knowledge Integration Through Inter-Organizational Virtual Organizations
Chapter 5
Mark E. Nissen
In today’s increasingly networked world of organizational practice, information and computer technologies are enabling people and organizations to... Sample PDF
Visualizing Knowledge Networks and Flows to Enhance Organizational Metacognition in Virtual Organizations
Chapter 6
Eduardo Bueno Campos
The aim of this chapter is to deepen the concept of ‘Communities of Practice’ (CoPs) from the understanding of a reference framework for knowledge... Sample PDF
Model on Knowledge-Governance: Collaboration Focus and Communities of Practice
Chapter 7
Josep Capó-Vicedo
This chapter highlights the necessity of establishing relationships with other companies and external agents in order to empower the creation and... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management in SMEs Clusters
Chapter 8
Raquel Sanchis
This chapter presents a general overview of the relationships between information and communications technologies (ITCs) and the process of... Sample PDF
Tools for Supporting Knowledge Management: Knowledge Internalization Through E-Learning
Chapter 9
Cesar Camison, Carlos Devece, Daniel Palacios, Carles Camisón-Haba
In this chapter we describe a practical tool useful to managing knowledge in the firm. It has already been introduced and tested in several firms... Sample PDF
The Value of Virtual Networks for Knowledge Management: A Tool for Practical Development
Chapter 10
M. Eugenia Fabra, Cesar Camison
Companies are increasingly conscious of the fact that the achieving of their objectives, together with the improvement of their competitive... Sample PDF
Human Capital and E-Learning: Developing Knowledge Through Virtual Networks
Chapter 11
Júlio Da Costa Mendes
This chapter looks to analyse new paradigms in the relationship between public and private organisations towards tourism destinations. It proposes... Sample PDF
The Development of Knowledge and Information Networks in Tourism Destinations
Chapter 12
E. Claver-Cortés
Government agencies are being pressed to become more efficient. For this reason, e-government strategies result from the expectations from society... Sample PDF
E-Government Challenges: Barriers and Facilitators in Spanish City Councils
Chapter 13
Hindupur Ramakrishna
The chapter presents a conceptual framework that identifies technological and organizational factors that impact the success of business analytics... Sample PDF
Business Analytics Success: A Conceptual Framework and an Application to Virtual Organizing
Chapter 14
Andrew Targowski
This chapter provides theoretical analysis and synthesis of how computer applications are applied in problem-solving and decision-making in practice... Sample PDF
The Evolution from Data to Wisdom in Decision-Making at the Level of Real and Virtual Networks
Chapter 15
Editor Conclusions  (pages 278-279)
Cesar Camison
The study of virtual organizations encompasses several research fields, and the variables involved in each of them are sometimes closely related.... Sample PDF
Editor Conclusions
Chapter 16
Andrew P. Sage, Cynthia T. Small
This chapter describes a complex adaptive systems (CAS)-based enterprise knowledge-sharing (KnS) model. The CAS-based enterprise KnS model consists... Sample PDF
A Complex Adaptive Systems-Based Enterprise Knowledge Sharing Model
Chapter 17
James G. Williams, Kai A. Olsen
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 opened competition in the telecommunications market in the U.S. and forced the incumbent telecommunications... Sample PDF
Developing a Telecommunication Operation Support Systems (OSS): The Impact of a Change in Network Technology
Chapter 18
Tor Guimaraes
Emerging agent-based systems offer new means of effectively addressing complex decision processes and enabling solutions to business requirements... Sample PDF
Enabling the Virtual Organization with Agent Technology
Chapter 19
Jens Gammelgaard
In geographically dispersed organizations, like multinational corporations (MNCs), contextual gaps exist between senders and receivers of knowledge.... Sample PDF
Virtual Communities of Practice: A Mechanism for Efficient Knowledge Retrieval in MNCs
About the Contributors