An exploratory study on the perception of senior executives of IT usage and IS planning in student affairs offices of tertiary institutions in Hong Kong

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An exploratory study on the perception of senior executives of IT usage and IS planning in student affairs offices of tertiary institutions in Hong Kong


Author: Chan, Yiu-hung
Title: An exploratory study on the perception of senior executives of IT usage and IS planning in student affairs offices of tertiary institutions in Hong Kong
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 1996
Subject: Student affairs services -- China -- Hong Kong -- Administration
Universities and colleges -- China -- Hong Kong -- Administration
Information resources management
Information technology
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Computing
Pages: 1 v. (various pagings) : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: The present Study looked at Information Systems Development in seven Student Affairs Offices through the eyes of their Senior Executives. Information systems had moved through three distinct era in the late 80's. The distinct IS foci of the three era were Data Processing, Management Information Systems and Strategic Information Systems. The different IS foci corresponded to the using IT for improved organizational efficiency, enhancing effectiveness and increased competitiveness respectively. In the tertiary setting in Hong Kong, IS planning had moved from the islands of technology to more systematic planning. Senior executives were getting involved more in the planning and setting up of departmental computer network. In order to study the perceived impact of IT on student affairs offices and to understand the interaction of the forces behind, the study employed a conceptual model built on the three expected IS foci. Senior executives' roles were distinguished in each one of the three by a set of management activities: control and cost consciousness, facilitating and allocating of resources, or strong leadership and actively seeking opportunities for IT application. The model also examined other factors affecting these management roles. They were corporate IT culture, IT support, the senior executive's knowledge and perception of IT usefulness, personal experience and involvement in IT development. The research methodology chosen was the multiple case study approach.. The use of the case study design allowed for in-depth exploration of the subject matter which was evolving all the time of the research. It was also more suitable for situations where the context was as important as the subject under study. The rapidly developing Information Systems in Student Affairs Offices presented tremendous difficulty in the research design, in particular the near impossible task in this case of the control of environmental factors. The choice of multiple studies helped to provide a form of cross checking while having enough flexibility to allow for insight formation. The findings showed that in recent years Information Systems Development in student services had taken significant steps forward. Partly arising from lower cost and increased IT literacy, and partly due to a shift in institutional IT culture there was much evidence that the use of IT had gone passed the initial stage of simply automating office procedures. In the Information System Planning of Student Affairs Offices, corporate IT culture and IT support were seen as the more important external influence. The Senior executives' task definition in relation to the stage of growth of the Office was the more important internal factors. Most Senior executives found IT helpful in Data Processing and Management Information Systems levels. They expected productivity gains. The perception of IT as Strategic Information Systems for competitiveness was not strong in practice though supported in principle. There was generally enhanced awareness on the need to formalize IS Planning process. The main handicap perceived included shortage of resources and lack of suitably trained staff within Student Affairs Offices. The role and importance of senior executives in providing leadership in IS planning and development in Student Affairs Offices was reaffirmed given their unique position and access to top management in the host institutions. Information Systems organization in student affair offices were much affected by the size, structural alignment and physical location of their service units. While centralized IT control was seen as the growing trend, senior executives preferred more distributed and decentralized IS model with greater internal control. Perceived threats that increased use of IT might lead to staff cut can be turned into opportunities for better and newer services if sufficient knowledge of IT capabilities was available to senior and middle ranking executives. Training in Information Systems Planning for Senior executives in is essentially and cannot be taken for granted. Other areas for training and development is to move from Database manipulation to transporting the information derived into Decision Support services or in Artificial Intelligent services. Given that most of the student affair offices had moved through the initial stages of IS development, the logical development was for them to go beyond the 3rd IS era of seeking competitiveness over efficiency and efficacy to the stage whereby IS induced organization or industry changes in the interacting organizations. As such, more collaboration rather than competition amongst Student affair offices, the urgency in setting up 'industry' standard and benchmarks to measure performance would be high on the agenda for an IT induced reorganization of student services to give better quality and diversity of service in the local setting.

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