Alberto Carneiro
Autonomous University of Lisbon, Rua de Santa Marta, 56 – 1169-023, Lisbon, Portugal
Keywords: Technological networks, learning process
Abstract: This paper intends to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the role and the value of technological
networks in learning processes, whose integration can enhance enterprise performance. Considering that the
adequate combination of some variables, as IT, Internet, Intranet, computers, Information Systems and
teamwork’s' activities may modify drastically organisations’ behaviour, a conceptual model for the
optimisation of enterprises’ performance as a function of technological networks is suggested.
Nowadays, Information Technology (IT) is a critical
success factor for implementation success.
Management is exposed to pressures and challenges
that require innovative and flexible responses to a
rapidly changing global environment. The major
challenge is the ability to maximise the use of
technological resources and to organize an adequate
number of links in order to establish a strategic
The concept of Technological Networks (TN)
includes architecture of new technologies,
equipment and also human resource skills.
Summarising, aggregating, comparing, or combining
various sets of data collected in the environment and
from competitors and customers needs the presence
of other technologies.
Information Technologies have been identified in
recent years in some industries as having a critical
impact on the organisation’s capacity to learn new
advances in several domains and to change
processes (Amburgey et al., 1993). Organisations
have to consider resources such as computing
equipment, software, audio-visual and multimedia
equipment, telecommunications equipment, cellular
phones, and visual communication resources. This
infrastructure should evidence flexibility in order to
provide a better use of TN capacity (Duncan, 1995).
In an organisational context, TN could be
understood as a comprehensive approach to all
aspects of managing the information resources and
processes associated with data, computing
technologies, and activities based on acquiring
storing, processing and distributing data to meet
functional needs for the benefit of the entire
Underlying the TN concept, some dimensions, such
as information technology integration,
communication technologies, and knowledge
management should be considered. These
dimensions of TN have to be evaluated and some
work would be necessary in order to find a survey
instrument for measuring them (Lewis et al., 1995).
It should permit to assess how well technological
resources are managed and how this relates to the
organisation's performance.
This paper proposes that the integration of
technological networks in learning processes can be
a significant factor in promoting organisational
innovation and in transforming the teaching and
learning paradigm.
Strategically, the success of most management
innovation processes also depends on a competitive
Carneiro A. (2004).
In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems, pages 497-501
DOI: 10.5220/0002617004970501
effort, which may includes a deep knowledge of
technological advances and an adequate analysis of
networks’ benefits (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990). In
this case, this means that managers should pay
attention to the following questions:
1) How their employees perceive the quality of the
respective technologies;
2) How middle managers can be motivated to
deliver the results of their teams in a qualified
3) Which technologies should be integrated to
generate high knowledge levels in order to
improve the quality of offering alternatives;
4) Finally, all these findings should be integrated
into a Decision Support System, which has to
present a competitive perspective based on TN.
TN may be a true asset of a knowledge-oriented
organisation and the integration of different
technologies should be emphasised. Learning
theories may explain the development of educational
experiences for information technology concepts
(Money, 1996). According to the major framework
of social cognitive learning theory, it can be
recognised that e-learning technologies provide new
possibilities of adopting new ways of teaching and
learning. These ways will demand for the interaction
among cognitive processes and network techniques.
Dealing with computing equipment, software,
several Information and Communication
Technologies and human values, TN provides that
learning organisations can re-engineer their
processes, using applied knowledge-based approach
and knowledge management perspectives. In fact,
assembling a set of resources as a means of changing
what an existing organisation can do is relatively
straightforward. Human resources with new skills
can be hired, technologies can be obtained and
adopted, capital can be raised, and product lines,
brands, and information can be acquired.
Emerging technology is also transforming teaching
and learning in higher education (Baldwin, 1998;
Batson and Bass, 1996; Bork, 2000; Dickson and
Segars, 1999; Gilbert, 1995; 1996). More than ever,
we are now aware of the learning role of professors
(Gillespie, 1998). It is not only adequate to design
learning experiences which will familiarize students
with existing technology and that will enhance their
learning processes but it is also important that
faculty members feel comfortable with this new
learning environment. This challenge represents one
of the most difficult tasks faculty development
coordinators should be undertaking in their faculty
development program. The integration of teaching,
learning, and technological networks is needed to
enhance organisations performance within the
context of their learning processes.
Networking and technology resources have become
central, indispensable tools in team co-ordinated
operations, manufacturing resources, for example,
computer-automated equipment that is designed to
reduce cost and improve quality. TN is becoming
progressively more useful because management is
taking into account the value of information,
technology, resources’ systems and team networks
(Woodridge and Jennings, 1995). Organisations
need to properly manage its intellectual capital and
its technical tools in the information domain, that is,
persons, technical resources and information
TN can be seen faced as a useful way for creating,
maintaining and exploiting all the possibilities of the
huge set of technological resources, such as
Information Technology (IT) and its equipment, that
many organisations can use in its activities (March
and Kim, 1989). According to this perspective, an
organisation can obtain a better qualitative image
using technological network. Nowadays, networks
can support a variety of communication
programmes, and intense efforts are being made to
improve its technological features in order to
improve communications infrastructures.
The benefits obtained from TN depend on the type
of technologies’ utilisation and its inactivity. Based
on a set of technical resources (SDSS, groupware,
interfaces, systems integrators, hardware and
software), managers can try to find a new approach
to obtain higher levels of integrated strategic
decisions, competitiveness, and performance.
Moreover, an adequate combination of technological
resources can help managers to anticipate problems
better, to guide the innovation effort (Drury and
Farhoomand, 1996), and to contribute to a greater
TN efficiency, focused on the achievement of
organisational objectives.
Organisations have to consider resources such as
computing equipment, software, and audio-visual
and multimedia equipment, teleconferencing
facilities, telecommunications equipment, cellular
phones, and visual communication resources. This
infrastructure should evidence flexibility in order to
provide a better use of TN capacity (Duncan, 1995).
Resources are the most visible of the factors that
contribute to what an organisation performance and
development. Resources should be flexible and
include a great set of components where information
technologies and technological networks play a
decisive role.
Within organisations such as universities, computer-
mediated education technologies facilitate the
transmission of knowledge between the educators
and the students. Electronic mail systems, computer
networks, and interactive compressed video (ICV)
systems are included. It is well known that computer
networks have changed dramatically the way
information is delivered throughout education
systems. Computer networks enable educators in
both distance education and traditional education
classes to interact with individual students at remote
sites. Computer networks are effective means of
facilitating student learning (Kulik and Kulik, 1987;
Kulik and Kulik, 1991; Siegel et al., 1986). These
networks can range in size from local area networks
(LAN), which link computers within a small area
(such as a university), to wide area networks
A model that captures integrated technological
resources, namely information technologies, is
therefore needed. This integrated model can be used
directly by managers from a coaching perspective in
order to gain access to applications and information
to support their pedagogical skills. Managers who
can use an explicit organisation model in their
preferences of large information bases may learn
more about technological capacities and therefore
facilitate the organisational learning process (Chen,
1995; Powell et al., 1996).
It is well known that computer-mediated
communication (CMC) mechanisms allow team
members to communicate over network and share
information during their co-operative duties. Most
organisations have served their telecommunication
needs through separate dedicated networks, such as
a voice telephone network, the corporate telecom
network and its links to the Internet, local area
networks (LAN), wireless manufacturing site
networks, a video conferencing network.
Network decisions are almost systematically
submitted to the general approval of the whole
network, whether explicitly or not. It will be stressed
here that the functioning of the networks is not based
on hierarchical principles, and not on democratic
ones, as such, either: it is knowledge driven and
highly dependent on general consensus.
The perception of an agreeable working climate is
one of the strongest factors influencing employee's
involvement in personal efforts on creativity and
innovation. Climate has to do with behaviour,
attitudes and feelings, which are easily observed.
Some technologies can act in order to create a
creative climate within the organisations in the
context of work groups. Through collaborative
technologies, team members can become more
easily involved. For example, the Internet can
provide instantaneous communication without a
LAN, and allows instant communication to all team
members. The possibility to communicate quickly
and with less inhibition allows problems to be
addressed and resolved more quickly.
The objective of this paper is to present a proposal
of some variables, which, according to our point of
view, should support organisational TN, concerning
the one that better satisfies goal achievement. The
adequate combination of IT, Internet, Intranet,
equipment, Information Systems and teamwork’s'
activities can lead the organisation to a particularly
strong performance. Our model will emphasise the
optimisation of innovation and learning processes as
a function of the technologies that are integrated into
the TN.
As can be seen in figure 1, a conceptual model for
The influence of Networks on the learning
process” is proposed. It emphasises that better
learning efforts, innovation and creativity,
organisational effectiveness and management
performance can be the results obtained from a KM
efficiency based on Teamwork Agents and
Resources and Technological Resources, namely
IT and DSS. This model should take into account
numerous determinants of the relationships among
various fields.
The top portion of the model shows two domains: 1)
Technological Resources and 2) Teamwork
Agents and other Resources. Technological
resources include IT and DSS, because they
contribute intensively to the formulation of
competitive strategies. As has been explained
before, teamwork agents are all the personal whose
functions imply learning efforts, creativity, and
decision capacities at different levels in the
organisation. Teamwork agents make learning
progresses based on each individual' s efforts and
Until now, this model has only been conceptualised
according to literature review and our personal
perspective. Further work will be required in order
to validate this model.
Technological Resources
Information Technology
Decision Support Systems
Web technologies
Computing systems
Audio-visual and multimedia equipment
Teleconferencing facilities
Telecommunications equipment
Cellular phones
Technological Network
Existing resources
New resources
Definition of objectives
Strategic Planning
Links integration
Learning Management Efficiency
Better learning efforts
Innovation and creativity
Organisational Effectiveness
Management Performance
Teamwork Agents and other Resources
Managers, educators and teachers
Database management
Professional experience
Information (markets / competition)
Computer-mediated communication
Knowledge management
Figure 1: The influence of Networks on the learning process
Organisations should commit to a new vision of
technological network integration and recognise and
harness the potential of networks to transform
multiple knowledge levels, to improve the
consequences of communications’ management, and
promote technical progress in order to increase the
performance level of some industries.
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