The Use of E-Questionnaires in Organizational Surveys

The Use of E-Questionnaires in Organizational Surveys

Yael Brender-Ilan (Ariel University Center of Samaria, Israel) and Gideon Vinitzky (Ariel University Center of Samaria, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2172-5.ch001
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Abstract

In recent years, there has been an increase in academic studies that examine the advantages and disadvantages of using e-questionnaires in organizations, but these studies have tended to ignore the potential differences between human resource (HR) managers and HR consultants with regards to using this tool. This chapter examines the use of e-questionnaires from the point of view of both types of practitioners. The study includes a qualitative exploratory survey, as well as a quantitative survey. T-tests, cluster analysis, and principal component analysis are performed and results support the three propositions that are presented. Specifically, it was found that (a) HR consultants and HR managers differ in the ranking of factors they think are important when deciding whether to use e-questionnaires; (b) preference differences exist between HR managers and HR consultants - managers are more directed by organizational constraints than consultants; and (c) the groupings for e-questionnaire preferences, compared to paper-and-pencil questionnaires, are consistent with Caldwell’s (2003) four roles of HR managers. The chapter concludes with implications and suggestions for future research.
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Introduction

Surveys conducted by human resource (HR) managers and HR consultants were traditionally performed using paper-and-pencil questionnaires. These surveys were mainly used to appraise employee attitude and morale, but they also allowed the firm to develop and assess its strategic objectives. The logic of this process was based on the idea that employees are in an optimal position to report information, given their place in the firm, and this was shown to be very valuable to the organization (Schneider, Ashworth, Higgs & Carr, 1996).

While this process is still carried out, nowadays many people are already familiar with the electronic interface; thus, major firms use electronic data collection instead of traditional paper questionnaires (Thompson, Surface, Martin & Sanders, 2003). In both methods, surveyors need and rely upon employee collaboration within the organization. The electronic questionnaire (e-questionnaire) is a computer program that guides respondents through the interview process and checks their answers on the spot. The development of computer hardware and software has made it possible to formulate very large and complex e-questionnaires. Electronic data procurement makes it possible to build a database that can be used and compared at several points in time. This is beneficial for academic researchers, as well as for relevant practicing managers and consultants.

Researchers suggest that electronic surveys are less expensive than traditional pencil-and-paper surveys, and that they increase the efficiency of collecting large organizational data sets. Moreover, the electronic survey is a more appropriate data collection method for measuring sensitive issues, such as negative employee attitudes and counterproductive behaviors (Stanton, 1998; Smith & Leigh, 1997; Krantz & Dalal, 2000; Eaton and Struthers, 2002). Although the internet provides opportunities to conduct surveys more efficiently and effectively than traditional means (Zhang, 2000), it also involves methodological issues and concerns (Andrews, Nonnecke & Preece, 2003; Cho & LaRose, 1999; Cook, Heath & Thompson, 2000; Vehovar et al., 2001). Researchers are concerned with employees' reactions to the shift towards electronic surveys, which were found to be mixed. While there is some evidence that employees are comfortable with this method of surveying (Thompson, Martin & Sanders, 2003), evidence has shown that, as this method becomes more prevalent, there are some concerns as well (Thompson & Surface, 2007).

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