Is E-Learning Used for Enhancing Administration or Learning? On the Implications of Organisational Culture

Is E-Learning Used for Enhancing Administration or Learning? On the Implications of Organisational Culture

Stefan Hrastinski (Uppsala University, Sweden), Christina Keller (Uppsala University and Jönköping International Business School, Sweden) and Jörgen Lindh (Jönköping International Business School, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-358-6.ch004
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Abstract

The transition from learning on campus to e-learning presents many challenges. One of the key challenges is the organisational culture, which may enhance or hinder e-learning implementation. In this chapter, we describe how the organisational culture shapes e-learning use at universities. We compare a School of Business and a School of Health Sciences. It is argued that strategies for e-learning have played akey role in shaping the organisational culture, which in turn shapes how e-learning is being used. The School of Business regarded efficient administration as the key driver while the School of Health Sciences regarded collaborative learning as the key driver for e-learning. We introduce the concepts of administration-centered and learning-centered e-learning culture to pinpoint the difference identified. A challenge is to develop an e-learning culture that values both how e-learning can be used to enhance administration and learning.
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Background

Organisational culture is defined in various ways in the literature. Alvesson (2002) defines it “as collectively shared forms of for example, ideas and cognition, as symbols and meanings, as values and ideologies, as rules and norms, as emotions and expressiveness, as the collective unconscious, as behavior patterns, structures and practices, etc.” (p. 3). Watson et al. (1994) provide a complementary definition and say that organisational culture is “the beliefs, values, norms, mores, myths, and structural elements of a given organisation, tribe, or society”. It consists of shared, commonly held and relatively stable beliefs and norms that influence behavior, actions taken and decisions made (Fiol & Lyles, 1985; Williams et al., 1993). The norms inherent in the organisational culture influence the behavioural and cognitive development that the organisation can accomplish. Hence, the organisational culture can become a severe obstacle in implementation of information technology. Leidner and Kayworth (2006) have categorised different types of conflicts that could emerge between values of the organisational culture and the implementation of information technology in an organisation; among them system conflict and contribution conflict. System conflict is a conflict that surfaces when the values implicit in a specific information technology contradict the values held by the users. For example, technologies of e-learning implemented in an organisational culture embracing campus education could cause a system conflict. Contribution conflicts refer to the disagreement between users’ general values and how they perceive the contribution of information technology in their work. One example of a contribution conflict is that teachers may perceive e-learning as useful for university administration, but not for enhancing the quality of learning.

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