An Exploration of the Perceived Value of Information Technology Certification between Information Technology and Human Resources Professionals

An Exploration of the Perceived Value of Information Technology Certification between Information Technology and Human Resources Professionals

Casey G. Cegielski (Auburn University, USA) and Dianne Hall (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-883-3.ch057
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Abstract

During the decade of the 1990s, many firms engaged in widespread internal dissemination of information technology (IT) in an effort to leverage the capabilities of IT into greater organizational efficiencies. Information technologies such as electronic mail, office automation applications, and enterprise resource planning systems, are a few of the most popular examples of organizational IT initiatives from the past decade. Today, the use of information technology is an integral part of the ordinary course of business and provides technologically progressive firms with heretofore-unseen opportunities. For example, Dell Computers developed and maintains a competitive advantage in the retail technology sector based partly upon the use if information technology that did not exist 10 years ago. Although business applications of information technology present firms with vast opportunity, there is a myriad of complexities associated with organizational IT usage. Generally, this paper examines one critical area: the human resource aspect of organizational IT usage. Specifically, the research presented herein answers the question “Do human resource and information technology professionals perceive information technology certification differently?” The question is of practical relevance when examined, as in this study, within the context of the candidate selection process for a firm evaluating potential hires for an information technology-related position. Initially, the current paper presents a comprehensive overview of the theoretical foundations of certification. From theory, we construct a testing methodology that utilizes, as subjects, practicing human resource and information technology professionals. An analysis of the collected data revealed a marked difference in the perception of information technology certification among the subject groups. Based on the results of structured interviews with the study participants, we present concluding explanations regarding the statistically significant differences among groups.
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Background

In the global marketplace, information technology (IT) is an increasingly important business tool. Each day, firms find new ways to employ technology to enhance their respective competitive posture. Within the business arena, one of the most widely utilized IT innovations is the information systems network (ISN) (Passmore, 2000). Information systems networks, comprised of global, wide, and local area networks, are vital components of the interconnected centerpiece of the worldwide digital business communications infrastructure. Information systems networks provide organizations with unprecedented efficiencies to share data and physical IT resources (Stallings, 1997). In order to leverage the advantages of ISN connectivity, businesses continue to network at an unprecedented rate (O’Keefe & Masud, 1999). However, many organizations struggle with the task of managing mission-critical ISN resources (Watson, 2000).

One common challenge faced by all organizations attempting to leverage the capabilities of an ISN is to identify a competent professional to mange the technology resource. During the candidate selection process, many firms place considerable importance on professional certifications (Williamson, 1997). Traditionally, an ISN professional that holds a certification can garner significantly more compensation than a non-certified counter-part (Prencipe, 2000; Williamson, 1997). The underlying assumption of employers regarding ISN certification is this: A certified individual is better able to facilitate the management of organizational ISN resources. However, previous research indicates that certification is not a positive predictor of one’s ability to manage organizational ISN resources (Cegielski, 2004; Cegielski, Rebman, & Reithel, 2003). In this contradiction between practice and theory, lies the general question the current study seeks to answer: who values information technology certification in the candidate selection process for IT-related positions?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Technology: The hardware, software, and communications devices that facilitates today’s ordinary course of business.

Expertise: An evolution and refinement of the structure and processes of memory associated with the practice of a task that requires the application of knowledge

Certification: A means by which to identify claimants to the title of expert

Autonomy: The independence in thought and practice to apply knowledge within the full spectrum of an acceptably defined range of one’s profession.

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