This thesis describes and analyses the move from individual adoption to institutionalisation of an information technology innovation: online education in universities. The study focuses on the processes that took place within two universities, one in Sweden and the other in Argentina, regarding online education adoption and the organisational changes developed.
The aim is to contribute to the understanding of individual and organisational strategies for the institutionalisation of the innovation. To achieve this aim, three research questions were posed. The first focused on the way in which teachers influence the adoption processes. The next addressed the changes and interactions at the individual and institutional levels resulting from these processes. The third question deepened into the methodological practices that can harmonise stakeholders‟ objectives and the conflicting interests regarding online education initiatives. Innovation theory, complemented with organisational theories provided the foundation for the description and analysis of the information technology innovation and the adoption processes.
The results of analysing and interpreting the collected data from the two universities in two different countries (Sweden and Argentina) showed that the adoption processes appeared to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The iterative nature of the appropriation and the constant “newness” of the information technology innovation may be plausible explanations for the phenomenon. Though the change has not yet become an integral part of the formal core of the institutions, it has been a great achievement considering the universities‟ structure, culture and resources.
The contributions provide complementary and pluralistic insights into the research field of Information Systems, for both theory and practice, as well as into higher education managers‟ decision-making. Furthermore, the knowledge contribution of the thesis could be applied to implementation of information technology innovations in other organisations with similar characteristics as the studied higher education institutions. Such characteristics are, for example, to be complex and knowledge intensive.
Interactions at macro and micro organisational levels could be modelled as the cyclic linkage between sensemaking outcomes and institutionalized structures. A higher level of theorization resulted in a meta-theory model to describe and explain the linkage itself within the perspective of adaptive structuration theory.
Regarding practice, scholar-engaged research allowed conflicting interests to be reconciled by changing the existing practices through sensemaking and negotiation among stakeholders in an ongoing implementation. As an overall conclusion, online education is still far from being fully institutionalised. After four years of technological and contextual changes during the research development, a positive shift can be seen in teachers‟ attitude towards online education. They show more confidence in working with constantly improved virtual environments. Nevertheless, there are still key factors that need to be faced regarding online education adoption and institutionalisation. These factors are of a strategic nature and the way to handle them seems to be more political than technological or pedagogical.
Jönköping: Jönköping International Business School , 2013. , 351 p.