Note: This excerpt is provided solely for educational purposes from the published dissertation, Faculty Use of Network Communications as a Medium for Scholarly Work
© 1998-2008 Paul David Henry – All rights Reserved.
As the basis for a conceptual framework, this study will employ a theory that previously has shown promise in understanding aspects of the adoption and implementation of organizational innovations. This theory is known as the status-risk theory of receptivity. As articulated by Giacquinta (1975a, p.42), it predicts that organizational and non-organizational statuses are basic in determining member receptivity to innovations within an organization. His status-risk model posits that: “1) all innovations contain varying degrees of possible benefits, risks, and uncertainties for organizations and organizational members depending on their statuses, and 2) that organizational member receptivity is a function of the extent to which he perceives risks, and more specifically of the degree to which he perceives direct or indirect risks to the perquisites accruing to his organizational status, were the innovation to become a reality.” This theory also holds that since people simultaneously occupy statuses inside and outside the organization, the same innovation might be beneficial to the perquisites (i.e. perks) associated with one type of status, yet risky to those of another type of status, and that this incongruence could affect receptivity.
The Causal Model
The basic model that will be tested in this study is presented (below) in diagrammatic form. It essentially examines the following relationship among variables: an independent variable of status differences which influences both the intervening variable of perceived advantage or disadvantage to perks and the dependent variable as use of network communications in scholarly work. Several broad research questions and many specific hypotheses emerge from this model.
The following basic questions will be addressed in the study:
- To what extent are faculty using network communications for scholarly work?
Hypothesis 1a. Tenured faculty members will use network communications for the dissemination of the results of their scholarly work more than non-tenured faculty members.
Hypothesis 1b. Compared to tenured faculty, non-tenured faculty will consider network dissemination of their scholarly work to be less advantageous for achieving tenure, achieving promotions, receiving pay raises, or gaining professional recognition.
Hypothesis 2a. Natural science faculty will make more use of use network communications for contacting colleagues and other scholars, gathering support for scholarly work, conducting research, and disseminating or publishing results of scholarly work than will social science faculty or arts and humanities faculty
Hypothesis 2b. Natural science faculty will perceive the use of network communications for contacting colleagues and other scholars, gathering support for scholarly work, conducting research, and disseminating or publishing results of scholarly work as more perquisite-enhancing (i.e. achieving tenure, achieving promotions, receiving pay raises, and gaining professional recognition) than will social science faculty or arts and humanities faculty.
Hypothesis 3a. Faculty in computer-based academic specialties will make more use of network communications for contacting colleagues and other scholars, gathering support for scholarly work, conducting research, and disseminating or publishing results of scholarly work than will faculty in academic specialties that are not computer-based. A computer-based academic specialty is defined as an academic specialty in which computer and/or network use (programming, design, or applications) is the primary purpose of instruction and research.
Hypothesis 3b. Faculty in computer-based academic specialties will perceive the use of network communications for contacting colleagues and other scholars, gathering support for scholarly work, conducting research, and disseminating or publishing results of scholarly work more as more perquisite-enhancing (i.e. achieving tenure, achieving promotions, receiving pay raises, and gaining professional recognition) than will faculty in academic specialties that are not computer-based.
The Rationale behind these Status Comparisons
As applied to this study, three status comparisons will be used to test the predictive nature of this theory as it relates to the use of this innovation. The choice of these statuses are based on their appearance in previous studies (described in the review of literature) as organizational variables which exhibited a significant degree of variance in faculty research productivity and adoption and the use of educational innovations.
The first status comparison will be made between tenured and non-tenured faculty. Non-tenured faculty have to establish their careers by producing evidence of scholarship (Martin, 1992). Tenure evaluation of their scholarship is largely measured by a page count of their publications in scholarly journals. In academia, the professional functions of selection, certification, and authority are strongly influenced by the editors of scholarly journals who determine the worthiness of the topics and quality of submitted works (Di Cesare, 1992). This vital professional function is still largely conducted through the print medium.
With a long tradition of measuring faculty productivity through these venues and the increasing competition for inclusion in these journals, non-tenured faculty face serious risks by using network communications for publication or even using this new medium in other areas of scholarly activity which might not accrue to achieving tenure (Shuster and Bowen, 1985; Martin, 1992; McNulty, 1995).
No matter how much value may be associated with using network communications, if a non-tenured faculty member perceives that efforts expended in learning and using this technology for scholarly work will not be recognized in tenure evaluation, he or she will likely limit their use of this new medium (especially for publication) at least until it is viewed as an individual benefit. This is most likely in the use of network communications as a publications medium. Conversely, important educational innovations are associated with older and more secure, tenured faculty (Evans, 1968). Faculty with this status have less to lose and more to gain.
The second status comparison will be made between what faculty research refers to as the “hard versus soft science” distinction of faculty specialization (Biglan, 1973; Dill, 1985; Neumann and Finaly-Neumann, 1990). As a reflection of the status differences in academic discipline, faculty in the natural sciences seem to be more socially connected, work in teams, and collaborate on publications more than their colleagues in the social sciences or arts and humanities. The competitive nature of research in the physical and computer sciences and related academic disciplines where research funding and prestige are still present may also contribute to the difference in research output associated with this status.
Faculty whose academic discipline dictates greater importance and pressure to be productive in research are more likely to be inclined (or allowed) to experiment with new forms of knowledge dissemination that can be achieved through network communications. It has also been observed that faculty in the natural sciences have a strong culture of collaborative research and exhibit strong patterns of faculty mentoring, especially in acquiring research and publication proficiency (Biglan,1973; Wheeler and Creswell, 1985; Neuman and Finaly-Neuman, 1990).
Also, faculty in the natural sciences typically use computers and networking technology in support of their largely quantitative research which will make them natural candidates for using the medium of network communications in many aspects of their scholarly work, including collegial and scholarly contact, gathering support for research, and of course, conducting research. The early and predominant influence of faculty and researchers in the natural sciences is associated with the early history of the Internet. In the 1970s, the U.S. federal government funded the interconnection of educational computer networks with government and military networks to expedite research that had national priorities such as the space program (gopher://gopher.isoc.org/11/internet/history). In the 1980s, physicists in Cern, Switzerland directed the development of the World Wide Web as a service that would let them easily access the latest publications in their field (http://www.w3.org/hypertext/WWW/WWW/).
The third status comparison is between faculty in computer-based academic specialties versus faculty whose academic specialties are not computer-based. Faculty with evidence of computer background and prior use by virtue of academic specialty are the most likely candidates for using this new medium by virtue of the comparative advantages over their colleagues. This is the most likely choice anyone would make in predicting who would use this new medium. They are the natural candidates for early adoption and extensive use and their historical participation in developing and using the Internet confirms this status (gopher://gopher.isoc.org/11/internet/history). In addition, the field study (described in the Method section) showed that faculty with this status feel a great need to show their expertise and involvement in the tools of their field both for intrinsic reasons and those of peer recognition.
What is your conceptual framework?
- Can you produce a diagram of the process of your research?
- Can you produce a flowchart of your research, of how knowledge will be developed and how it will contribute to the field of study?
An example of a (generic) conceptual framework.
If we look at the project in the example above of developing research questions, the conceptual framework might look something like this:
If we now add the theoretical component-the learning theory, we get something like this:
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