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The adoption and diffusion of eLearning in UK universities: A comparative case study using Giddens's Theory of Structuration

Glenn Hardaker (University of Huddersfield Business School, Huddersfield, UK)
Gurmak Singh (University of Wolverhampton Business School, Wolverhampton, UK)

Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Article publication date: 30 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This exploratory study seeks to identifythe factors that influence the adoption and diffusion of instructional technology at five prominent universities in the UK. The study aims to examine the organisational factors that enable and inhibit organisational adoption and diffusion of innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative exploratory case approach has been adopted to address the research question. In total, 36 semi‐structured interviews were conducted at five universities in the UK. The five diverse approaches to adoption and diffusion of instructional technology were examined; top‐down, integrated top‐down, bottom‐up, research‐driven and project‐driven approach.

Findings

For this research eLearning is conceptualised as innovation situated in the interplay between structure and individual and how this leads to adoption and diffusion. The paper argues that senior management need to acknowledge the need to bridge the gap between “local context” and top‐down strategic change. The findings suggest that there are tensions between “signification of meaning”, “power and dominance” and cultural norms in adoption and diffusion of eLearning.

Research limitations/implications

The implications of the research are significant in understanding the diversity of approaches to the adoption and diffusion of elearning. This provides insight for other universities in successfully managing the application of e‐learning.

Originality/value

Giddens's structuration theory provided a sensitising framework for understanding the dialectical nature of adoption of eLearning within five universities in the UK. The tensions between institutional structures, such as strategies, training, access to technology, technical support and time resources, and levels of adoption can be captured by dialectic of control in Giddens's Theory of Structuration.

Keywords

Citation

Hardaker, G. and Singh, G. (2011), "The adoption and diffusion of eLearning in UK universities: A comparative case study using Giddens's Theory of Structuration", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 221-233. https://doi.org/10.1108/10650741111162707

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited