Corporate education and new information technologies: Executive perceptions of implementation barriers

Jason Michael Wingard, University of Pennsylvania


Developing and maintaining an educated, high-performance workforce in today's global economy is increasingly challenging. Intense competition, constant change, process re-engineering, imbalances in wage and production policies among nations, and the infusion of new technologies conspire to disrupt traditional employee practice and capability (Brinkerhoff & Gill, 1994). Research indicates that classroom-based corporate education strategies are ineffective for the burgeoning knowledge economy (Carnveale & Carnveale, 1994; Broad & Newstrom, 1992). The need for human capital development and lifelong learning by professionals demands that continuing education and professional development accommodate diverse learning environments for the digital age. To meet such demands, organizations are relying on technology-based solutions. The purpose of this study was to analyze industry trends in technology-based learning program development. The study focussed on a sample of 12 Fortune 500 learning executives and identified their perceptions of barriers to new learning technology implementation. Specifically, the following research questions were addressed: (1) How are corporations attempting to integrate and use new technologies to facilitate learning? (2) What do learning executives perceive to be the greatest barriers to implementing technology-based corporate education solutions? (3) What do learning executives perceive to be the consequences of those implementation barriers? (4) What do the learning executives suggest as remedies to the barriers? (5) How do their perceptions compare to the barriers identified in previous research? (6) Do the perceived barriers vary across the sample? How? (7) How can the data inform future corporate educational research? What are the implications for successfully integrating technology-based learning policies? The executive perceptions of barriers were compared against the study sample and previous studies to establish a framework of generalizablity. Data collection utilized in-depth elite interviews as the primary data source. The review of documents was conducted to supplement the interviews. Follow-up interviews were used to confirm data results. Data was analyzed primarily following Marshall and Rossman's (1999), Delamont's (1992) and Yin's (1994) models of analysis. The results indicated significant differences in the ways the participants' respective companies were using and integrating learning technologies. The use and integration methodologies varied by needs assessment, integration assessment, technology types, spending, and evaluation. The study also revealed several barriers that learning executives identified as barriers to implementing learning technology strategies. Eleven areas were reported. The primary areas of focus were ‘user resistance,’ ‘assessment,’ ‘cost,’ and ‘infrastructure’. These codes were the most frequently identified. Several secondary barriers also emerged: ‘executive buy-in,’ ‘time,’ ‘evaluation,’ ‘technology integration,’ ‘managerial control,’ ‘corporate education personnel,’ and ‘corporate culture’. The study also highlighted consequences of, and relative remedies for, the barriers. Consequences included: ‘increased spending,’ ‘inconsistent deployment of knowledge,’ ‘limited development plans,’ and ‘inability to attract and retain’. Suggested remedies included: ‘demonstrate results,’ ‘executive collaboration,’ ‘technology education,’ and ‘slow implementation.’

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Educational software|Business education

Recommended Citation

Wingard, Jason Michael, "Corporate education and new information technologies: Executive perceptions of implementation barriers" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9989669.