Information technology support for transformation in higher educational institutions in South Africa

Roets, Rina Annette (2006) Information technology support for transformation in higher educational institutions in South Africa. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.




Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been in a state of change, and in South Africa, the term “transformation” is used to describe the changes occurring. These changes have implications for the structure, processes and focus of HEIs, and as such have implications for Information Technology (IS/ICT) support for HEIs. IS/ICT support for organisations is predicated on several factors, such as effective informational and technical support at all levels of the organisation, but especially support for the strategic goals of the organisation (alignment). For organisations in a state of rapid change other issues need to be considered, such as flexibility, and new and diverse information and communication needs. This paper investigates the use of Information Technology to support HEIs in transformation. The research examines factors that make HEIs less amenable to rationalist techniques such as mixed management styles and a “different” value chain. The difficulties for IS/ICT support of HEIs at all managerial levels is discussed, especially the issue of alignment with institutional goals. Thereafter, transformation of HEIs and the possibility of IS/ICT support in achieving the ill-defined goal of transformation is examined. The research uses management and IS/ICT theories such as the widely used and reported Porter’s value chain, Anthony’s information model, and Minzberg’s organisational model to suggest an analysis model for HEIs (Applegate, McFarlan and McKenney, 1996; Minzberg, 1979; Ward and Peppard, 2002). Furthermore, from the analysis of the literature, a model of antecedent factors for successful HEI transformation supported by IS/ICT is proposed. The research makes use of a comparative case study approach in which 3 (three) South African HEIs are investigated through the “lens” of the developed model. The major finding of the research is that the potential use of IS/ICT support for HEIs is not optimal in the three cases examined. Results of the analysis suggest that: • IS/ICT alignment with organisational goals at HEIs is low and holistic IS/ICT strategic management is lacking. The areas of Knowledge Management and Communication Management are conducted informally and Knowledge Management, especially, is not fully exploited. • The greatest area of concern is the lack of IS/ICT support for academic management, where academics are increasingly required to perform administrative and managerial tasks. • The merger/incorporation information needs have not caused major system problems, but other intangible aspects of the mergers/incorporations could be better supported by IS/ICT. The research concludes with a set of actions that should ensure a higher level of support, amongst which are the more holistic management of IS/ICT especially for Academic management needs, and particularly the use of IS/ICT in innovative ways to overcome the challenges of the “transformed” Universities: There are areas of excellence but the full possibilities afforded by technology are not exploited maximally in support of transformation. Research suggests that the reasons for this are mainly the lack of holistic strategic management of IS/ICT.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Higher education, South Africa, Educational change, Universities and colleges, Information technology, Educational technology, Technological innovations, Knowledge management
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Commerce > Information Systems
Faculty > Faculty of Science > Information Systems
ID Code:2786
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:09 May 2012 08:13
Last Modified:09 May 2012 08:13
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