یک مدل از اثرات مشاوران فنی درباره یادگیری سازمانی در شرایط خرید فن آوری پیشرفته
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|3910||2003||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of High Technology Management Research, Volume 14, Issue 1, Spring 2003, Pages 1–20
Despite the fact that it is widely acknowledged that both organizational learning and the purchasing of high-technology products are important areas for study, it is surprising to find that little, if any, research has explicitly linked them together. Accordingly, the major motivation of this study is to begin to address this gap in the literature by developing a model that is based on a review of the extensive literature on organizational buying behavior, organizational information search, and organizational learning. Moreover, a key contribution of this research is to incorporate the effects that outside technical consultants are likely to have on the processes of information search and organizational learning in firms purchasing high-technology products. The inclusion of the effects of consultants is important because many scholars argue that such hired experts are likely to have a pronounced effect on organizational learning in a variety of high-technology contexts.
The term “organizational learning” appears to have been used first in 1963 by Cyert and March in their seminal study of the behavioral aspects of organizational decision making. However, the topic of organizational learning did not gain much further attention from researchers until the late 1970s when it started to become a focus of activity for a few organizational theorists (e.g., Argyris, 1977, Argyris & Schön, 1978 and Jelinek, 1979). Though research activity did increase in the 1980s, it was not until the 1990s that the topic became a central one in a variety of management disciplines such as strategy, and production management (Easterby-Smith, 1997). Similarly, scholars in the field of marketing have only recently begun to explicitly address this topic. Though early studies did examine the closely related areas concerning the use of market information (e.g., Deshpande & Zaltman, 1987) and knowledge utilization (Menon & Varadarajan, 1992), Sinkula's (1994) was the first study to explicitly examine organizational learning by linking this concept to that of market information processing. A short time after, Slater and Narver (1995) linked the concept of the learning organization1 (as opposed to the concept of organizational learning) to market orientation. Most recently, three studies have extended this work by focusing on how organizational learning relates to marketing channels (Lukas, Hult, & Ferrell, 1996), organizational buyer behavior (Hult & Nichols, 1996), and how market-based organizational learning is linked to values, knowledge, and behavior (Sinkula, Baker, & Noordewier, 1997). In the research presented here, the central focus is on the link between “information search” and “organizational learning” in high-technology purchase situations. Because such situations are information intensive (Weiss & Heide, 1993), there should be ample opportunity for firms to acquire new information and knowledge so that there is significant potential for organizational learning to take place. Importantly, the effects that external consultants are likely to have on information search and organizational learning are also incorporated in the conceptual model. The inclusion of the effects of consultants on search processes and organizational learning is predicated on the grounds that numerous theorists argue that learning from external consultants is likely to be a very important factor in the process of organizational learning Cyert & March, 1992, Dixon, 1992, Huber, 1991, Menon & Varadarajan, 1992 and Slater & Narver, 1995. In addition, although no empirical studies could be located that have examined the effects of consultants on organizational learning, there is a small but growing body of empirical evidence indicating that consultants have strong effects on search processes in organizations that have hired them to help make high-technology purchases Dawes, 1996 and Patterson & Dawes, 1999. Moreover, the need to examine the effects of management consultants seems important because the use of these external experts in firms making IT purchase decisions is now so widespread. This is evidenced by the fact that for the first time in 1996, the 100 biggest U.S. accountancy firms earned more from consulting ($8.3 billion) than they did from either auditing ($7.9 billion) or tax ($5 billion) (The Economist, 1997). In addition, and in response to the desire for firms to have technical advice when buying high-technology products, many of the largest suppliers of IT (e.g., IBM) have formed their own consulting arms. The critical importance for IT suppliers to have their own consulting businesses was recently illustrated by Compaq's 1998 acquisition of Digital Equipment because it mostly wanted Digital's very successful consulting arm (The Economist, 2000). A central feature of this research is that a “contingency approach” is adopted to predict the effects of consultants on information search and organizational learning. This approach is used because research by Dawes (1996) suggests that consultants possess contingency scripts that guide their behavior when providing assistance in firms making high-technology purchase decisions. Contingency approaches have been used in several areas relating to organizational buying behavior, industrial selling (Weitz, 1981), prediction of buying center choice2(Wilson, Lilien, & Wilson, 1991), and influence in buying centers (Kohli, 1989). The essential notion of the contingency approach is that all human behavior is a series of ongoing adjustments and accommodations, which reflect the demands of an existing situation (Freidman & Churchill, 1987). In short, the underlying premise of the research presented here is that technical consultants will adjust their behavior according to the characteristics of the buying center (or decision-making unit), which is formed in the firm making the purchasing decision. As a result of this adjusted behavior, it is expected that the effects of consultants on search processes and organizational learning will, to some degree, be contingent on (or moderated by) the characteristics of the buying center. The key aspects of this research are as follows. First, there is a discussion of the concepts of organizational learning, data, information, and knowledge. Then, an attempt is made to distinguish these concepts. Next, the conceptual framework is presented and a model is developed to explain how the participation of a consultant is likely to affect information search and organizational learning in situations involving the purchasing of a big-ticket, high-technology product. In the final part of the paper, there is a discussion of some of the key issues surrounding this research topic.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The key contribution of this paper is to offer a set of testable propositions that are designed to discover how technical consultants are likely to affect organizational learning in high-technology purchase situations. However, there are several other issues that relate to this topic and they warrant further investigation. The first issue relates to the likely variance in the amount of organizational learning, which may be due to the personal characteristics of the consultants themselves. An explicit assumption of the research presented here is that the key characteristic of the consultants affecting the amount of organizational learning is greater participation (involvement) in the decision-making process. But this assumption seems somewhat simplistic because individual consultants are not only likely to vary in their participation in the buying process but they are also likely to vary considerably in terms of their prior experience, amount of relevant technical knowledge, and political skills in helping DMUs make high-technology purchase decisions. So research is needed to see how important the individual characteristics of consultants are in affecting the amount organizational learning. For example, would there be less organizational learning in firms in which the consultancy firm had sent an assignment team composed of mainly inexperienced (junior) consultants as opposed to other firms where the consultancy assignment team consisted of mainly senior consultants? This question also raises the issue that for large-scale purchasing decisions, a consultancy firm is likely to send a team of consultants rather than a single individual. Clearly, this outcome has implications for selecting the most appropriate unit of analysis for this type of research: Should it be the individual or the group (team)? A key aspect of this research is that a contingency framework is used to predict the impact of technical consultants. In short, the underlying premise is that technical consultants will adjust their behavior according to the characteristics of the buying center (or DMU), which is formed in the firm making the purchasing decision. As shown in Fig. 1, three buying center characteristics—heterogeneity, viscidity, and familiarity—are suggested as contingency variables. Clearly, other and perhaps more relevant buying center characteristics need to be considered as contingency variables. For example, the literature on buying center characteristics (e.g., Ozanne & Churchill, 1971 and Venkatesh et al., 1995) suggests that the size of buying center and its technical orientation are likely to affect the way it processes information. Moreover, consultants may also adjust their behavior according to the characteristics of the buying organization. Support for this notion is supported by the in-depth interviews conducted with technical consultants. As a consequence, future research should consider the use of organizational-level variables as contingency variables. These variables may relate to the firm's structure (e.g., formalization), size, culture, or institutional factors (e.g., industry sector, age of founding firm). Another important issue regarding the purchasing of IT products concerns the credibility of the consultancy firms who are owned by the major IT suppliers. As noted earlier, suppliers such as Compaq, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard have their own consulting arms, which may lead client firms to have serious doubts about the independence of this type of consultant. This is especially likely to be the case if the consultants recommend equipment that is made by the IT supplier who owns the consultancy firm (The Economist, 2000). Finally, there is a need to extend this research topic into the two other major areas in the study of new technology and innovations namely, new product development and implementation. The latter area is often closely related to the purchasing of IT because the offer of having available and knowledgeable consultants to assist in the implementation of the purchased technology is an important criterion used by client firms to select a particular IT consultancy (Dawes, Dowling, & Patterson, 1992). With respect to new product development, because consultants can be used in all stages of the developmental process (e.g., idea generation, screening, concept testing), there seem to be many research opportunities to investigate how consultant involvement is related to organizational learning.