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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COMPETENCY ON BUSINESS MANAGERS (A CASE STUDY OF IPNX NIGERIA LIMITED)

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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1-5 ::   Pages: 55 ::   Attributes: Questionnaire, Data Analysis
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CHAPTER TWO

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Introduction

Since the advent of organizational use of information technologies (IT), the responsibility to acquire, implement and maintain technology investments has belonged to the specialists within Information Systems departments. Yet current IT research suggests that the management of IT should be shared between IT professionals and line managers [29,54,55,59,60,65,66]. Business managers are now expected to deploy IT effectively and strategically [66], to assume ownership of IT projects within their domain of business responsibility [59,60], to develop a partnership with IT professionals [56], and to take the leadership in IT implementation [55].

2.1. Theoretical frame work

IT Competence and The Theory of Planned Behavior

The theory of planned behavior (TPB) is an extension of the theory of reasoned action [22], a well-tested theory in the context of IT, that offers an appropriate model of individual behaviors [8]. According to TPB, actual behavior is solely and directly determined by one’s intention to perform the behavior. Three variables influence a person's intentions. The first is the individual’s attitude toward the behavior, reflecting how the person feels about performing the behavior. The second is his/her subjective norms concerning the behavior, reflecting the extent to which the person thinks that others, such as peers and superiors, want him/her to perform the behavior. The third variable is perceived behavioral control, which accounts for conditions under which individuals do not have complete control over their behavior [69]. Perceived behavioral control tests for the existence of opportunity and resources to support proactive IT behaviors. The model accounts for motivations since the intention to perform a behavior reflects an individual’s motivation to do so.

Attitudes Regarding Line Technology Leadership

Attitudes towards a specific behavior are determined by beliefs concerning the consequences or outcomes of that behavior. As the subjective nature of knowledge represents personal beliefs that are deeply rooted in an individual’s value system [45], individual IT competence, which is the individual’s knowledge about IT in the broadest sense, can be seen as reflecting the individual’s beliefs about IT. Thus, knowledge influences beliefs. For example, knowing that IT can support an organization’s strategy leads one to believe in the usefulness of IT. These beliefs will then influence the various elements of the TPB. Hartwick and Barki found that an individual’s participation in the development of an IS project influenced the attitude toward using the system developed [26]. In the same way, the “action” component of competence represented by the manager’s experience with IT is expected to influence his/her attitude toward the technology. This is consistent with the cognitive dissonance theory, according to which individuals hold attitudes that are consistent with their actions [21]. Thus, it is expected that a manager’s experiences will influence his/her attitude toward utilizing IT.

 

Subjective norms

Subjective norms are a function of two factors: what one believes important other individuals expect one to do and one's motivation to comply with those others [8]. We expect that IT competence will have an indirect effect on subjective norms. Hartwick and Barki demonstrated that subjective norms are influenced by the same variables as attitude [26]. The key element linking IT competence to subjective norms is the individual’s belief about the use of IT [26]. According to this “false consensus” effect [57], individuals think that others hold the same beliefs as they do. Managers’ IT competence, reflecting their beliefs about using IT, may thus influence their subjective norms about using IT. Furthermore, if an individual is known to be highly competent in IT, it is likely that others (e.g., superiors or peers) will be more willing for that individual to take on IT leadership roles.

Perceived Behavioral Control

Perceived behavioral control is similar to the locus of control, and reflects beliefs about the facilitating conditions [71] and about self-efficacy [7]. Facilitating conditions represent the availability of resources, such as time, organizational authority, and money needed to perform a behavior, and thus are not associated with competence. Self-efficacy is the individual’s selfconfidence in his/her ability to engage in a behavior. Higher levels of IT competence should increase the level of perceived efficacy. With relevant knowledge and experience, managers should be more likely to believe that their actions are legitimate [30,39], thus increasing their self-confidence about their IT behavior and their level of perceived behavioral control.

BRIEF HISTORY OF IPNX NIGERIA LIMITED

 

2.2. Conceptual clarifications

DEFINITIONS AND DIMENSIONS OF COMPETENCE

The concept of “competence” is used in many different areas of research, including psychology, education, management, human resources and information systems. It is also used in a variety of ways, sometimes as a synonym for performance, other times as a skill or personality trait. It is sometimes referred to with different prefixes or suffixes, such as in the terms “competency,” “meta-competence,” or “supra-competence.” These different uses generate some confusion as to the meaning of the concept. This confusion has been recognized in the literature [10,14,15,51,76]. In the IT literature, Marcolin and colleagues report that the proliferation of approaches on the concept of competence has hindered the creation of a cumulative body of knowledge.

 

Competence versus Performance

Confusion arises when competence and performance are used interchangeably. Competence is the enabler, providing the means to a better performance [33]. By mixing competence and performance, outcome and process are confused. Because it is difficult to assess competence, performance is often used as a proxy for it. However, while these concepts are related, factors other than competence—such as motivation, effort, and supporting conditions—may influence performance [63]. Furthermore, competence does not necessarily imply performance. In this study, we see competence as the potential that leads to an effective behavior; we are interested in investigating the capability that enables business managers to effectively apply IT in their business units. We also consider other factors that may influence the outcomes of competence (see section 4), but that are not part of the IT competence construct.

Competence is often used as “an umbrella term to cover almost anything that might directly or indirectly affect job performance” [76, p. 29]. The numerous definitions in various literatures can be grouped into three main ideas: competence as a skill, competence as a personality trait, and competence as knowledge. Each is described below; the third perspective is then developed into the IT competence construct.

 

Competence as a skill

A large portion of the competence literature is discipline-specific and refers to the development of specific skills or “competencies” for a particular job or profession [74]. The underlying idea in the skill-based approach is that there should be a fit between the employee’s skills and the job requirements [18]. Marcolin and her colleagues define user competence “as the user’s potential to apply technology to its fullest possible extent so as to maximize the user’s performance on specific job tasks” [40]. This definition recognizes that competence is antecedent to performance, and adopts the skill-based approach by looking for the match between a user’s abilities and the task at hand. The skill-based approach assumes a pre-defined task; competence is simply a “fit” between an individual and the task. This focus on a specific task can be useful when a firm is trying to hire someone or is attempting to create an effective training plan. However, it loses relevance in the context of line management leadership, since managerial roles do not necessarily imply a priori defined tasks. The skill-based approach also focuses on the minimum skills an employee needs to bring to the table to do an effective job. In the example of IT managers, the skill-based approach is thus insufficient to identify the competence that will enable a manager to identify new IT opportunities and behave proactively in regards to IT.

 

Competence as a personality trait

Other researchers use a broader definition of competence by including characteristics related to the individual [74]. Haynes defines competence as “generic knowledge, motive, trait, social role, or skill of a person linked to superior performance on the job” [27, p. 3]. The term “emotional competence,” a learned capability based on emotional intelligence, is also used to represent this broader view in explaining outstanding performance at work [24]. These meta-competencies “represent the range of self-perceptions that exist about an individual manager’s performance, encompassing also the irrationality and unpredictability of personal feelings” [14, p. 292]. They include general or specialized knowledge, physical and intellectual abilities, personality traits, motives, and self-images [31]. Viewing competence as a personality trait allows the inclusion of the dimensions of behavior that lie behind competent performance when discussing competence [75]. Competence thus comprises the qualities that help an individual have a successful career and are often used in the lifetime competency perspective. This view of competence is too broad for our purposes, as we seek to explain what gives business managers the potential to leverage IT investments, not their entire career. Our focus is not on an individual job, nor is it on a lifetime of achievement. Rather, we focus on functional competency in a manager who is not part of the IT function. We therefore limit our definition of IT competence to the knowledge components of the meta-competence view.

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