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Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills
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Differences In Perception Of Is Knowledge And Skills

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  • 1. ARTICLE IN PRESS International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 Differences in perception of IS knowledge and skills between academia and industry: findings from Taiwan David C. Yena,*, Houn-Gee Chenb, Sooun Leea, Seokha Kohc a Department of Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA b Department of Information Management, National Chung-Cheng University, Chia-Yi, Taiwan ROC 621 c Department of MIS, Chungbuk National University, Cheong Ju, Chung Buk 361-763, South Korea Abstract It will not be possible to develop an Information Systems (IS) program and a curriculum that represents the true needs of the IS industry until IS educators, reduce the gap perception and IS practitioners’ perception of IS knowledge and technical skills that the industry might need. This manuscript presents an analysis of perceptions about IS knowledge and skills that IS practitioners might consider important and what IS academicians might consider important. The study is based in Taiwan. The findings portray a very important lesson for IS academics that their understanding about the required knowledge and skills for the IS career is not in line with that of IS industry. r 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Information Systems (IS); Information Technology (IT); IS Management; Education 1. Introduction Information Systems (IS) professionals are experiencing rapid changes both in the technologies they use and the business environment in which they work. The old paradigm of a single career path of programmer—analyst—project manager—IS manager is being replaced with a new reality in which there are a number of IS career paths (Cooper & Schindler, 1998; Lee, Trauth, & Farwell, 1995; Moeller & Kerstetter, 1998; Ross, Breath, & Goodhue, 1996; Trauth, Farwell, & Lee, 1993). The joint committee from Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Data Processing Management *Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-513-529-4826; fax: +1-513-529-9689. E-mail addresses: yendc@muohio.edu, lees@muohio.edu (D.C. Yen), mishgc@mis.ccu.edu.tw (H.-G. Chen), shkoh@cbucc.chungbuk.ac.kr (S. Koh). 0268-4012/$ - see front matter r 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2003.09.011
  • 2. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 508 Association (DPMA), International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) and Associa- tion of Information Systems (AIS) recommended a ‘unified’ undergraduate IS curriculum in 1995. Given the variety of possible IS career paths, the ‘unified’ IS curriculum may be outdated from the start. A typical curriculum specifies how many hours should be allocated to various knowledge and skills categories. Many researchers have reported a gap between the relative importance of the required IS knowledge and skills rated by industry and academia (Ashenhurst; Barley & Orr, 1997; Burk, 1998; Couger et al., 1995; Lee et al., 1995; Nelson, 1991; Todd, McKeen, & Gallupe, 1995; Young & Lee, 1996). In addition, the proportion of the hours provided in terms of the required IS knowledge and skills by IS academia is not in line with the importance of the required IS knowledge and skills ranked by the industries. Almost all researchers perceive the curriculum gap as a sort of proof of failure on the academic side. Further, they imply that academia failed to provide what is actually needed by the industry. As a result, it is the authors’ belief that IS curricula must be redesigned and redeveloped to provide various knowledge and skills in propor- tion to the demand of IS industry. Further, Todd et al. (1995) suggest the possibility of a ‘recruitment gap’. They found that the relative frequency and proportion of stated technical knowledge requirements in advertisements for IS professionals placed in four major news- papers have increased dramatically, while the relative frequency of business and systems know- ledge requirements has actually decreased slightly. Concluding that this finding contradicts the literature concerning skills requirement for systems analyst or IS managers, they hypothesize that the recruitment process might not have responded and is misdirecting its attention towards technical skills. In any case, if the recruitment gap really exists, it can also be used to explain the curriculum gap described above. In this research, the authors investigate what criteria, along with importance, must be considered and how they can be incorporated in designing a curriculum in Taiwan. 2. Knowledge and skills required by IS personnel Any graduate of an IS program should be equipped to function in an entry-level position and should have a basis for continued career growth (Adler, 1992; Couger et al., 1995; Dalal, 1994; Staiti, 1997). In 1972, reporting the result of the research of ACM Curriculum Committee on Computer Education for Management, Ashenhurst suggested a curriculum for a master’s level program in information systems development. He generated 37 skills and abilities that students in a graduate MIS program should be expected to acquire and classified them into six categories: people, models, systems, computers, organizations, and society. Couger et al. (1995), Lee et al. (1995), Nelson (1991), Todd et al. (1995) and Young and Lee (1996) provide other classifications of the abilities, knowledge, or skills that an IS graduate must possess. Table 1 shows various classifications of traits an IS graduate needs to maintain. Within this list, technology management knowledge as described by Lee et al. (1995), is perhaps the most unique. It includes the ability to learn new technologies, the ability to focus on technology as a mean, not an end, and an ability to understand technological trends. In developing countries, it may be most important for a practitioner to be able to read technical documents written in a foreign language, especially English. If the ability to learn new technologies is allowed to encompass the
  • 3. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 509 Table 1 Classifications of IS abilities/knowledge/skills Authors Categories Ashenhurst (1972) People, models, systems, computers, organizations, society Couger et al. (1995) Communication, computer applications systems, information technology and tools, interpersonal relationships, management, problem solving, systems development methodologies, systems theory and concepts, professionalism Lee et al. (1995) Business functional knowledge (H), interpersonal and management skills (H), technology management knowledge (M), Technical specialty knowledge (L) Leitheiser (1992) (developer skills) interpersonal (H), analysis & design (M), programming (M), business (M), environment (L), programming language (L), specific application (L) (specialist skills) database & data communication (1), software (2), hardware (3), advanced applications (4) Nelson (1991) Organizational knowledge, organizational skills, organizational unit, general IS knowledge, technical skills, IS product Todd et al. (1995) Hardware, software, business, management, social, problem solving, development methodology Young & Lee (1996) Interpersonal skills (H), programming languages (M), development & management of applications (M), operating systems (M), network and communications (L), personal computer tools (L) The number in parentheses represents the rank of importance of the items of each category, with 1 the most important. H, M, and L in parentheses represent high, middle, and low importance, respectively. It means that, for example, the items in the category ranked first are generally rated more important than those in the category ranked second. Some items in the second-ranked category, however, may be rated more important than some of the items in the first-ranked category. It also does not necessarily mean that the skills of the first-ranked category as a whole are considered to be more important than those of the second-ranked category. The ranking is approximate for some authors. foreign language comprehension ability, it may be the item that a difference between advanced countries and developing countries is most highlighted. Some executives consider the ability to bring in business and people perspective as opposed to putting too much emphasis and priority on the technology as an essential part of good IS leadership (Darrah, 1994; Garner, 1998; Mirvis & Hall, 1996; Ross et al., 1996; Weick, 1990). Leitheiser (1992) classified skills into two broad catego- ries: one for system developers and one for technical specialists. For development skills, he found that in 1990 MIS managers regarded the interpersonal skills as most important and by 2000 were expected to become even more important. For specialist skills, managers ranked DBMS and data communication skills as the most important. Specifically, managers expected electronic data interchange (EDI) and local area network (LAN) skills to dramatically increase in importance between 1990 and 2000. The literature reports that by and large people regard ‘general’ knowledge and skills such as interpersonal skills and business knowledge to be more important than ‘IS-related’ knowledge and skills. This is true even for entry-level IS personnel (Fafard, 1998; Feeny & Willcocks, 1998; Koh, Lee, Yen, & Havelka, 2001; Lee, Koh, Yen, & Tang, 2002; Yen, Lee, & Koh, 2001; Young & Lee, 1996). A series of surveys repeatedly reported that IS personnel generally show their deficiency most seriously in these important areas (Lee et al., 1995; Nelson, 1991; Todd et al., 1995; Trauth et al., 1993).
  • 4. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 510 3. Curriculum gap Nelson (1991) defines proficiency and deficiency to represent advancement in knowledge of skill and a lack of some necessary quality (e.g., knowledge or skill), respectively. Specifically, defining usefulness, as how important one believes proficiency in a skill is to the successful performance of his job, he defines deficiency (of an individual in a skill) as the difference between usefulness (of the skill to him) and (his) proficiency (in the skill). Nelson (1991) also found that most IS personnel were experiencing the biggest deficiencies in general IS knowledge, followed by organizational knowledge, technical skills, organizational skills, IS products, and organizational unit knowledge in order. He found that end-users were experiencing deficiency most severely in the general IS knowledge area as well. Other authors also report IS skill deficiencies of IS personnel (Glass, 1992; Howard, 1995; Lee et al., 1995; Trauth et al., 1993). Trauth et al. (1993) define the curriculum gap as the difference between what is being taught in IS degree programs and what practitioners or recruiters expect. Todd et al. (1995) refer to this phenomenon as the ‘education gap’. Although there is some difference between the curriculum gap and the education gap, they may be reasonably regarded to denote the same meaning. Implicitly assuming that entry-level information systems personnel learn their skills only through information systems department training, the difference of the deficiency among categories of IS skills of entry level personnel is regarded as a proof of a curriculum gap. One of the areas in which the gap is reported to be the largest is in the integration area— integration of networks, of existing business applications, or of new applications with existing applications (Glass, 1992; Lee et al., 1995; Trauth et al., 1993). In this area, IS curricula usually do not provide sufficient preparation for their students. Another area in which a large gap is reported is systems development process (Ilgen & Pulakos, 1997; Lee et al., 1995; Trauth et al., 1993). Although these are heavily emphasized in academic programs, their importance to practitioners is diminishing. In an increasingly time-sensitive business arena, efficiency and elegance of process may be less important than effectively focusing new technologies on business problems (Howard, 1995; Trauth et al., 1993). Trauth et al. (1993), however, report that there is only a modest difference of vision of what must be offered in IS degree programs between academics and practitioners. That is, according to their interpretation, there is an implementation problem of translating that shared vision into the academic reality. They also report that academics feel that they do not have the tools to teach students about the hands-on aspects of integrating technology and business applications. Expanding on prior research, the purpose of this study is to investigate the following: (1) Level of proficiency required and achieved for IS knowledge and skill set by the academic institutions. (2) Level of proficiency required and achieved for IS knowledge and skill set by the IS industry. (3) Level of proficiency required and achieved for technical skill set by the academic institutions. (4) Level of proficiency required and achieved for technical skill set by the IS industry. Further, this study will compare and contrast the level of proficiency and achieved for IS knowledge and skills set between academia and practitioners. Similarly, the level of proficiency required and achieved between the academia and practitioners are also assessed and discussed to gain additional insights.
  • 5. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 511 4. Research methodologies and data collection 4.1. The research variables In addition to the demographic data, the survey composed two parts. Part one relates to the evaluation of the required and possessed knowledge and skills and part two is associated with the evaluation of required and possessed software tools expertise. All the research variables are evaluated with a five-point Likert scale. In specific, a ‘‘five-point’’ represent the factor is most important and a ‘‘one-point’’ means the least important one. 4.1.1. Knowledge and skills variable groups: required and possessed Twenty-one attributes of IS-related knowledge/skills are identified. For each knowledge/skills attribute, the level of proficiency required for and the level of proficiency possessed by each IS professional, are measured to reflect the different academic and industrial views. The 21 attributes are defined and classified as follows: IS core knowledge: IS management. Visions about IS/IT competitive advantage and knowledge * of IS technological trends. IS core knowledge: IS technology & development. Knowledge and skills associated with * hardware, packaged products, operating systems, networking/communications software/ languages, programming languages, systems development methodologies, and implementa- tion/operation/maintenance (IOM) issues. Organizational and societal knowledge. Knowledge and skills associated with specific business * functional areas, specific organizations, specific industries, and a company’s general operating environment. Interpersonal skills. Interpersonal behavior skills, interpersonal communication capability, * international communication capability, and teaching/training skills. Personal trait. Personal motivation and ability to work independently, creative thinking, and * critical thinking. 4.1.1.1. Software and tools expertise variable groups: required and possessed. Twenty-nine attributes of IS-related software and tools expertise are identified. For each attribute, the level of proficiency required for and the level of proficiency possessed, are measured. The software tools expertise is closely related to the hands-on experiences with the specific tools, languages, and software programs. 4.2. Design of the survey The sample schools (59) are all accredited by the Ministry of Education of the Taiwan government. A total of 15 usable responses were received resulting in a response rate of 25% after the follow-up mailing. For the industry, the authors mailed the survey questionnaire to the heads of IS departments of the top 500 companies in Taiwan. Eighty-four valid responses were received resulting in a response rate of 17% after the follow-up mailing. Compared with data collected from IS industry, the sample size in IS academic institution may be small (a t-test roughly needs a sample of 30) and this could be a major limitation of this study. Considering
  • 6. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 512 the fact that all the data collected is individual’s perception, not an institution’s perception, the statistical analyses are performed under the limitation of a smaller sample size for academic institutions. 4.2.1. Demographic data (academic institutions) The demographic data consists of four categories, which are ‘‘number of IS faculty,’’ ‘‘number of IS undergraduate students,’’ ‘‘professional rank,’’ and years of teaching.’’ For the first category, 13% of the surveyed respondents work in an academic institution with 5–9 MIS faculty, with 20% having either 10–14 or 15–19 faculty, respectively, 33% with 20–29 faculty, and 13% with more than 30 faculty. In terms of the number of IS undergraduate students, the statistics includes: 7% of institutions with a number of students in the range of 300–399; 13% each for a number of students between the range of 100–199, 200–299, and 400–499; and most institutions surveyed have a number of students either less than 100 (20%) or more than 500 (33%). As to the professional ranks, the respondents are mainly from the associate professor rank (53%), with a 13% each from the rank of lectures, assistant professors, and professors. The last remaining 7% respondents are from administrator, director of IT, or others academic positions. For the ‘‘years of teaching’’ category, 47% of the respondents have 5–10 years experience, 33% have 1–3 years, and 13% have 3–5 years and 7% have worked for 20–30 years. 4.2.2. Demographic data (IS industry) The demographic data of IS industry participants are surveyed with four different categories: number of employees, annual revenues (millions), professional rank, and years with the company. In terms of the ‘‘number of employees’’ category, 32% with 1000–4999 employees, 27% with 100– 499 employees, 25% with 500–999 employees, 9% with 5000–9999 employees, 6% with more than 10,000 employees, and 1% with less than 100 employees. For annual revenues (in millions), 36% in the range of 62.5–156.25, 21% and 19% in the range 156.25–312.5 and 31.5–1562.5, respectively, 10% each in the range of either greater than 1562.5 or between 31.25 and 62.5, 3%, and 1% each are in the range 3.12–15.6 and 15.6–31.25, respectively. As to the professional rank, 58%, 24% and 15% in order are middle-level managers, high-level managers, and low-level managers. For the last category—‘‘years with the company’’, the statistics include: 37% with 10– 20 years, 29% with 5–10 years, 10% with 20–30 years, 9% with 3–5 years, 8% with 1–3 years, 4% with less than 1 year, and 3% for over 30 years. 5. Statistical analyses 5.1. Subjects of knowledge and skills and personal traits 5.1.1. Academia Table 2 summarizes the level of proficiency required for an IS profession and the level of proficiency achieved by students for each subject of knowledge and skills and personal traits, that is perceived by IS academicians. The significant levels (p-values) are also summarized in the table. The results indicate that the level of proficiency achieved is significantly lower than the level of proficiency required in most of the items except ‘‘packaged products’’. There is certainly room for
  • 7. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 513 Table 2 Level of proficiency required, level of proficiency achieved, and the difficulty of mastering IS knowledge/skill— Academia IS knowledge skill Level of proficiency Level of proficiency Significant level of (required) (achieved) the difference (p) 0.000ÃÃÃ IS technological trends 4.47 3.53 Packaged products (spreadsheet, word processing, 4.40 4.27 0.499 etc.) 0.000ÃÃÃ Personal motivation and working independently 4.33 3.13 0.000ÃÃÃ Knowledge of specific functional areas (finance, 4.27 3.40 marketing, production, etc.) 0.007ÃÃÃ Application systems 4.20 3.53 0.002ÃÃÃ Interpersonal communication skills (oral and written) 4.20 3.27 0.013ÃÃ Critical thinking (involve analysis, evaluation and 4.07 3.07 reasoning) 0.003ÃÃÃ Creative thinking (involves synthesis and generation 4.07 3.00 of new ideas) 0.028ÃÃ Networking/communication software and languages 4.00 3.60 0.001ÃÃÃ Systems analysis/design/development methodologies. 4.00 3.33 (Structured programming, CASE methods or tools, etc.) 0.001ÃÃÃ Interpersonal behavior skills (involve organizing, 4.00 3.13 leading, working cooperatively, and planning collaboratively) 0.003ÃÃÃ Programming languages 3.87 3.13 0.082Ã Implementation, operation, and maintenance issue 3.73 3.33 (documentation, etc.) 0.007ÃÃÃ Visions about IS/IT for competitive advantage 3.73 3.07 0.000ÃÃÃ International communication ability (foreign 3.67 2.60 languages and cultures) 0.028ÃÃ Operating systems 3.53 3.13 0.003ÃÃÃ Knowledge of specific organizations (your own 3.53 2.73 company, your host company, etc.) 0.003ÃÃÃ Environment (economic, legal, etc.) 3.47 2.67 0.003ÃÃÃ Knowledge of specific industries (retail, automobile, 3.40 2.60 textile, etc.) 0.029ÃÃ Teaching and training skills 3.33 2.87 0.096Ã Hardware 2.87 2.53 Scale: 1–5, ÃÃÃpo0:01; ÃÃpo0:05; Ãpo0:1: improvement in preparing and teaching the students about these aforementioned items. ‘‘IS technological trends’’, ‘‘Packaged products’’, ‘‘Application systems’’, ‘‘Interpersonal communica- tion skills’’, ‘‘Personal motivation and working independently’’, ‘‘Knowledge of specific functional areas’’, ‘‘Creative thinking’, ‘‘Networking/communication software and languages’’, ‘‘Systems analysis/design/development methodologies’’, and ‘‘Interpersonal behavior skills’’ are regarded highly as required IS knowledge, skills and personal traits.
  • 8. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 514 Table 3 Level of proficiency required, level of proficiency possessed for IS knowledge/skill—Practitioners IS knowledge/skill Level of Level of Significant level proficiency proficiency of difference (p) (required) (possessed) 0.083Ã Critical thinking (involve analysis, evaluation and reasoning) 4.13 3.97 0.078Ã Creative thinking (involves synthesis and generation of new ideas) 4.05 3.91 Personal motivation and working independently 4.04 4.13 0.31 Knowledge of specific functional areas (finance, marketing, production, 3.97 3.82 0.122 etc.) 0.046ÃÃ IS technological trends 3.97 3.78 Application systems 3.67 3.69 0.791 Visions about IS/IT for competitive advantage 3.63 3.59 0.671 Interpersonal behavior skills (involve organizing, leading, working 3.62 3.59 0.798 cooperatively, and planning collaboratively) Interpersonal communication skills (oral and written) 3.62 3.54 0.426 Operating systems 3.48 3.46 0.894 0.096Ã Packaged products (spreadsheet, word processing, etc.) 3.32 3.49 0.014ÃÃ Programming languages 3.31 3.51 0.029ÃÃ Networking/communication software and languages 3.21 2.99 0.058Ã Implementation, operation and maintenance issues (documentation, etc.) 3.15 3.37 Hardware 3.15 3.24 0.403 Knowledge of specific organizations (your own company, your host 3.14 3.21 0.46 company, etc.) Teaching and training skills 3.13 3.24 0.259 International communication ability (foreign languages and cultures) 3.01 3.03 0.926 0.059Ã Systems analysis/design/development methodologies (structured 2.95 3.15 programming, CASE methods or tools, etc.) Knowledge of specific industries (retail, automobile, textile, etc.) 2.71 2.83 0.206 Environment (economic, legal, etc.) 2.46 2.54 0.358 ÃÃÃpo0:01; ÃÃpo0:05; Ãpo0:1: 5.1.2. Practitioners Table 3 summarizes the level of proficiency required and the level of proficiency possessed by IS practitioners for each IS knowledge and skill. IS practitioners considered ‘‘Critical thinking (which involves analysis, evaluation and reasoning)’’, ‘‘Creative thinking (which involves synthesis and generation of new ideas)’’, ‘‘Personal motivation and working inde- pendently’’, ‘‘IS technological trends’’, and ‘‘Knowledge of specific functional areas’’ as the five most important required IS knowledge/skills. Among those skills, ‘‘IS technological trends’’ and ‘‘critical thinking’’ are the ones that need to be improved to meet the required level. Other skills that need to be improved include ‘‘Implementation, operation, and maintenance issues’’, ‘‘Networking/communication software and languages’’ and ‘‘programming languages’’. When assessing the differences between the levels of proficiency required vs. proficiency levels possessed, it appears that IS practitioners apparently have a better grasp of almost every IS
  • 9. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 515 knowledge/theory-related topic than they have of personal skills and traits such as creative thinking. 5.2. Technical skills set 5.2.1. Academia The IS technical specialties were examined in detail. The level of proficiency required for an IS professional and the level of proficiency achieved by students for each technical skill are summarized in Table 4. The results indicate that ‘‘Web page production tools’’, ‘‘Electronic mail tools’’, ‘‘Internet/navigation browser’’, ‘‘PC-based database tools’’, and ‘‘Client–server based Table 4 Level of proficiency required, level of proficiency achieved for technical skill set—Academia Technical skill set Level of proficiency Level of proficiency Significant level (required) (achieved) of difference (p) Web page production tools (e.g., HTML, Java) 4.47 4.20 0.164 0.019ÃÃ Electronic mail tools 4.40 4.07 Internet/navigation browser 4.33 4.33 1 0.089Ã PC-based database tools 4.27 3.80 0.003ÃÃÃ Client–server based database tools 4.20 3.60 0.082Ã Word processing tools 4.07 4.27 Presentation graphics tools 4.00 4.07 0.751 Spreadsheet tools 3.93 3.93 1 0.008ÃÃÃ Local area network tools (e.g., Windows NT) 3.87 2.93 PC operating systems 3.80 3.53 0.164 0.054Ã Query languages 3.80 3.40 Object-oriented languages 3.67 3.40 0.301 0.096Ã High level procedural languages 3.67 3.33 0.001ÃÃÃ 4th generation languages 3.53 2.67 0.022ÃÃ Data warehouse/mart tools 3.47 2.73 0.001ÃÃÃ Electronic data interchange tools 3.47 2.67 Multimedia production tools (e.g., DIRECT) 3.40 3.40 1 0.007ÃÃÃ CASE/structured programming tools 3.40 2.80 0.054Ã Decision support systems 3.33 2.93 0.001ÃÃÃ Transaction processing systems 3.33 2.60 0.002ÃÃÃ Enterprise resource planning tools (e.g., SAP) 3.33 2.33 0.029ÃÃ Telecommunication tools 3.27 2.80 0.003ÃÃÃ Project management tools (e.g., MS Project) 3.27 2.60 Statistics tools 3.20 3.13 0.792 0.023ÃÃ Simulation/optimization tools 2.87 2.27 0.001ÃÃÃ Teleconference/video-conference tools 2.87 2.13 0.096Ã Expert systems/shells 2.80 2.47 0.019ÃÃ Mini-mainframe operating system 2.53 1.87 Assembly language 1.80 1.60 0.424 ÃÃÃpo0:01; ÃÃpo0:05; Ãpo0:1:
  • 10. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 516 database tools’’ are perceived as the top five most important required IS technical skills. In general, the levels of proficiency achieved are lower than the levels of proficiency required for all the technical skills except ‘‘word processing tools’’ and ‘‘presentation graphics tools. The educators also have a satisfactory performance in teaching ‘‘spreadsheet tools’’ and ‘‘Web page production tools’’ by further analyzing the differences between the levels of proficiency required vs. the levels achieved. The significant differences between the required and the achieved levels are found in skills such as ‘‘client–server based database tools’’, ‘‘enterprise resource planning tools’’, ‘‘project management tools’’, ‘‘transaction processing systems’’, ‘‘4th generation languages’’, ‘‘CASE/structured programming tools’’, ‘‘electronic data interchange tools’’, ‘‘teleconference/ video-conference tools’’ and ‘‘local area network tools’’. Table 5 Level of proficiency required, level of proficiency possessed for technical skills—Practitioners Technical skill set Level of proficiency Level of proficiency Significant level (required) (possessed) of difference (p) Electronic mail tools 3.94 3.85 0.389 0.085Ã PC operating systems 3.82 3.64 Internet/navigation browser 3.65 3.55 0.386 0.017ÃÃ Mini/mainframe operating system 3.63 3.37 0.021ÃÃ Local area network tools (e.g., Windows NT) 3.49 3.21 Query languages 3.36 3.23 0.254 0.001ÃÃÃ Word processing tools 3.26 3.65 Telecommunication tools 3.14 2.95 0.137 Client–server based database tools 3.10 2.96 0.23 0.034ÃÃ Presentation graphics tools 3.04 3.31 High level procedural languages 3.03 3.15 0.289 0.005ÃÃÃ Web page production tools (e.g., HTML, Java) 3.01 2.67 PC-based database tools 2.99 3.17 0.123 Transaction processing systems 2.97 2.87 0.145 4th generation languages 2.96 2.99 0.841 Electronic data interchange tools 2.95 2.82 0.234 0.000ÃÃÃ Spreadsheet tools 2.87 3.40 Object-oriented languages 2.86 2.65 0.149 Decision support systems 2.82 2.72 0.296 Project management tools (e.g., MS Project) 2.74 2.69 0.609 CASE/structured programming tools 2.70 2.75 0.62 Data warehouse/mart tools 2.68 2.61 0.464 Enterprise resource planning tools (e.g., SAP) 2.55 2.44 0.259 Statistics tools 2.42 2.38 0.72 Teleconference/video-conference tools 2.36 2.41 0.689 Expert systems/shells 2.28 2.13 0.122 Multimedia production tools (e.g., DIRECT) 2.20 2.10 0.251 Simulation/optimization tools 2.18 2.04 0.124 0.049ÃÃ Assembly language 1.55 1.77 ÃÃÃpo0:01; ÃÃpo0:05; Ãpo0:1:
  • 11. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 517 5.2.2. Practitioners For the technical skills, the level of proficiency required and the level of proficiency possessed by IS practitioners are summarized in Table 5. The result indicates that ‘‘Electronic mail tools’’, ‘‘PC operating systems’’, ‘‘Internet/navigation browser’’, ‘‘Mini/mainframe operating system’’, and ‘‘LAN tools’’ are the top five required skills. The need for ‘‘assembly language’’ is obviously diminishing and ‘‘expert systems/shells’’ and ‘‘multimedia production tools’’ are less important according to this survey. The possessed level of proficiency meets the required level of proficiency for most of the technical skills in general. A few areas need to be improved such as ‘‘Web page production tools’’, ‘‘Local area network tools’’, ‘‘PC operating systems’’, ‘‘Mini/mainframe operating system’’, and ‘‘Object-oriented languages’’. 6. Comparative analyses 6.1. Observation 1 According to the survey results from academic institutions (Table 2), ‘‘IS technological trends’’, ‘‘Packaged products’’, ‘‘Personal motivation and working independently’’, ‘‘Knowledge of specific functional areas’’, and ‘‘Application systems’’ are perceived as the top five required IS knowledge/ skills and personal traits. On the other hand, ‘‘Critical thinking (involve analysis, evaluation and reasoning)’’, ‘‘Creative thinking (involves synthesis and generation of new ideas)’’, ‘‘Personal motivation and working independently’’, ‘‘Knowledge of specific functional areas’’, and ‘‘IS technological trends’’, are the five most important required IS knowledge/skills according to IS practitioners (Table 3). Apparently, there are significant perception gaps that exist between IS academicians and practitioners in terms of the required IS knowledge/skills. 6.2. Observation 2 It is also interesting to note that IS academicians and practitioners have reached some agreement regarding technical skills. Namely, both parties regard ‘‘Electronic mail tools’’ and ‘‘Internet/navigation browser’’ as two important required technical skills (Tables 4 and 5). In addition to these two skills, IS academicians perceive ‘‘Web page production tools’’, ‘‘PC-based database tools’’, and ‘‘Client–server based database tools’’ as important required technical skills (Table 4), while IS practitioners (Table 5) think ‘‘PC operating systems’’, ‘‘Mini/mainframe operating system’’, and ‘‘LAN tools’’ are essential skills to perform IS jobs. 6.3. Observation 3 Comparing the levels of proficiency achieved on the academicians side (Table 2) vs. the proficiency possessed by the industry (Table 3), there is also an agreement that both ‘‘IS technological trends’’, and ‘‘Knowledge of specific functional areas’’ are important in terms of the knowledge/skills and personal traits set. To get into more detail, academicians (Table 2) rated high in those areas such as ‘‘Packaged products’’, ‘‘Networking communication software and languages’’, and ‘‘Applications systems’’ while IS practitioners (Table 3) perceive ‘‘Personal
  • 12. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 518 motivation and working independently’’, ‘‘Creative thinking (involve synthesis and generation of new ideas)’’, and ‘‘Critical thinking (involve analysis, evaluation, and reasoning)’’ to be essential knowledge/skills and personal traits to possess in terms of the possessed level of proficiency. 6.4. Observation 4 ‘‘Internet/navigation browser’’, ‘‘Word processing tools’’, ‘‘Web page production tools’’, ‘‘Electronic mail tools’’, and ‘‘Presentation graphics tools’’ are the top five technical skills in terms of the achieved level of proficiency according to academicians (Table 4). On the industry side, it is interesting to note that ‘‘Electronic mail tools’’, ‘‘Word processing tools’’, ‘‘PC operating systems’’, ‘‘Internet/navigation browser’’, and ‘‘Spreadsheet tools’’ are ranked as the top five technical skills to own (Table 5). 6.5. Observation 5 In terms of areas of improvement in the knowledge/skill set, academicians (Table 2) perceive ‘‘IS technological trends’’, ‘‘Knowledge of specific functional areas’’, ‘‘Interpersonal commu- nication ability’’, ‘‘Personal motivation and working independently’’, ‘‘Interpersonal behavior skills’’, and ‘‘Systems analysis/design/development methodologies’’ as relevant areas requiring improvement while IS practitioners (Table 4) perceive that ‘‘Programming language’’, ‘‘Networking/communication software and languages’’, ‘‘IS technological trends’’, ‘‘Systems analysis/design/development methodologies’’, ‘‘Creative thinking (involve synthesis and genera- tion of new ideas)’’, and ‘‘Critical thinking (involve analysis, evaluation, and reasoning)’’ as important areas to focus on. 6.6. Observation 6 Based on Table 4, it is obvious that ‘‘‘Transaction processing systems’’, ‘‘Enterprise resources planning tools’’, ‘‘Project management tools’’, ‘‘Client–server based data base tools’’, and ‘‘Teleconference/video-conference tools’’, are the subject areas in the technical skills set which need to be improved by academic institutions. On the other hand, ‘‘Spreadsheet tools’’, ‘‘Word processing tools’’ and ‘‘Web page production tools’’ are the areas, which need to be focused on according to the industry (Table 5). Further, the level of proficiency possessed for spreadsheet tools and word processing tools is higher than the level of proficiency required in the same table. On the other hand, the result of ‘‘web page production tools’’ surprisingly indicates that the level of proficiency possessed is lower than the level of proficiency required (Table 5). 7. Discussion The findings of this study suggest two significant gaps between the perceptions of IS academicians and the perceptions of IS practitioners in Taiwan. These include: (1) The gap between the perceptions of the level of proficiency required vs. achieved in the subjects of knowledge/skills and personal traits set by IS academia and practitioners.
  • 13. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 519 (2) The gap between the perceptions of the level of proficiency required vs. possessed in the technical skills set by both IS academia and practitioners. These two issues beg the question—Is it that the Taiwanese IS education system is not very effective to deliver the right IS knowledge and the adequate set of technical skills to the audience? Further, the findings from this study also suggest that the Taiwan IS academicians are more technology-driven than the ones in other countries. It is interesting to note in the survey result that Taiwan IS academicians rate almost every software tool more important than Taiwan IS practitioners do. This trend is very consistent in both areas of IS knowledge skills and technical skills. The authors speculate that IS academics are very heavily influenced by the advancement of new computing technologies and new development of software tools and as a result, may regard the technical software skills higher. Again, this speculation needs to be further verified by future studies. Further, IS institutions seem to be deeply driven by the IS recruiting market based on this survey’s findings. Another possible interpretation for a more technical and quantitative skills may be due to the fact that IS recruiters are always looking for new-hires with substantial knowledge of specific software and can utilize it for carrying out the job assigned immediately. A technical new-hire may require less time for learning and can be utilized to make full advantage to increase productivity, and hence improve operational efficiency. It came as no surprise to find out that IS practitioners rate most subjects in such areas as organizational behavior, strategic management, oral and written communication, team and leadership, and personal traits more important than IS academicians since it is very difficult to motivate and engage people, to manage conflict, and to deal with people issues in the dynamic business environment. The authors, again, speculate these aforementioned subjects as important organizational/societal skills and personal traits to deal with the tasks such as day-to-day routines, resources allocation, staffs supervising and assessment, and time manage- ment. As a result, an important question will be raised here—should IS academic institution think carefully about how to foster/improve student capabilities such as team-working, leadership, oral and written communications in the current curriculum and related course offerings? Again, a time lag between IS curricula and industry demand is to some degree, inevitable. In some cases industry tends to forge ahead and academia follows suit and there are still other cases the academia leads the industrial advancement. As a result, both academia and practitioners need to place a focus on how to reduce the gaps. Internship and coop program may be useful to bridge the gaps between the academic and real world environments and hence, help the students to be more competitive in the future job market. Work placement or on-job training can also help to reduce these aforementioned gaps. In light of the required and achieved or possessed perception of the level of proficiency of subject knowledge and technical skills, it is one of the educators’ most important responsibilities to realize that the gap does not exist. To reduce the gap, several means include the need to utilize an effective teaching pedagogy, choose the right teaching style to pass the required knowledge onto their students, and to develop a more effective assessment instrument. Academia should check each university’s own environment and culture to choose any combination of the aforementioned ways to reduce the gap discussed in this manuscript.
  • 14. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 520 8. Conclusions This study provides some insights about the gap that exists between the practitioners and the academia, between the subject knowledge and technical skills, between the perceptions of level of proficiency required and achieved/possessed. There are, however, still many other questions and problems, which further research can help in gaining an understanding. In specific, these research implications may include the following items. From this study, there are some implications, which may be useful for further studies. (1) Are all IS programs worldwide evolving in the same direction, i.e., become less effective to provide the necessary skills, education, and/or training? (2) How about the techno-MBA program and related curriculum? Does it have an even larger gap? (3) How about the executive program and related curriculum? The students who enrolled in the executive program usually have strong organizational/societal skills than the technical skills. In summary, the authors of this manuscript believe that the findings from this study portray a very important lesson for IS academicians that their understanding about the required knowledge/ skills for an IS profession is not in line with actual industry demand. It will not be possible to develop an IS program/curriculum to reflect the true needs of the IS industry until the IS academicians reduce the perceived gap between academia and practice. References Adler, P. S. (1992). Technology and the future of work. New York: Oxford University Press. Ashenhurst, R. R. (1972). Curriculum recommendations for Graduate Professional Programs in Information systems. Communications of the ACM, 15(5), 364–384. Barley, S. R., & Orr, J. E. (1997). Between craft and science: technical work in US settings. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press. Burk, K. (1998). Corporate IS Staffing 101. PC Week, 28, 66. Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (1998). Business research methods (6th ed.). Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill. Couger, J. D., Davis, G. B., Dologite, D. G., Feinstein, D. L., Gorgone, J. T., Jenkins, A. M., Kasper, G. M., Little, J. C., Longenecker Jr., H. E., & Valacich, J. S. (1995). IS’95: Guideline for undergraduate is curriculum. MIS Quarterly, 19(3), 341–359. Dalal, N. P. (1994). Higher-order thinking in MIS. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 34(4), 26–30. Darrah, C. (1994). Skill requirements at work. Work and Occupation, 21(1), 64–84. Fafard, L. (1998). Skilled for tomorrow. Computer World, 8, 76. Feeny, D. F., & Willcocks, L. P. (1998). Core IS capabilities for exploiting information technology. Sloan Management Review, 39(3), 9–21. Garner, R. (1998). IT leadership: Are you the right fit? Computer World, 28, 82. Glass, R. L. (1992). A comparative analysis of the topic areas of computer science, software engineering and information systems. Journal of Systems Software, 19(4), 277–289. Howard, E. (1995). The changing nature of work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ilgen, D. R., & Pulakos, E. D. (1997). The changing nature of work performance: Implications for staffing, personal actions, and development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Koh, S., Lee, S., Yen, D. C., & Havelka, D. (2001). Evolution of IS Professionals’ Competency: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer Information Systems, XXXXI(4), 21–30. Lee, D. M. S., Trauth, E. M., & Farwell, D. (1995). Critical skills and knowledge requirement of IS professionals: A joint academic/industry investigation. MIS Quarterly, 19(3), 313–340.
  • 15. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 521 Lee, S., Koh, S., Yen, D. C., & Tang, H. L. (2002). Perception Gaps between IS Academicians and IS Practitioners: An Exploratory Study. Information & Management, forthcoming. Leitheiser, R. L. (1992). MIS skills for the 1990s: A survey of MIS managers’ perceptions. Journal of Management Information Systems, 9(1), 69–91. Mirvis, H. P., & Hall, D. T. (1996). New organizational forms and the new career. In: D. T. Hall, & Associates (Eds.), The career is dead: Long live the career (pp. 72–101). San Francisco: Jessey-Bass. Moeller, M., & Kerstetter, J. (1998). Outsourcing apps a hit. PC Week, 28, 6. Nelson, R. R. (1991). Educational needs as perceived by IS and end-user personnel: A survey of knowledge and skill requirements. MIS Quarterly, 15(4), 503–525. Ross, J. W., Breath, C. M., & Goodhue, D. L. (1996). Developing long-term competency through IT assets. Sloan Management Review, 38(1), 31–42. Staiti, C. (1997). Talent at IT’s Best. Computerworld: The 100 Places to Work in IS, pp. 68–73. Todd, P. A., McKeen, J. D., & Gallupe, R. B. (1995). The evolution of IS job skills: A content analysis of IS job advertisements from 1970–1990. MIS Quarterly, 19(1), 1–27. Trauth, E. M., Farwell, D. W., & Lee, D. (1993). The IS expectation Gab: Industry expectation versus academic preparation. MIS Quarterly, 17(3), 293–303. Weick, K. E. (1990). Technology as Equivoque: Sencemaking in new Technologies. In: P. S. Goodman, L. S. Sproull, & Associates (Eds.), Technology and Organizations (pp. 1–44). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Yen, D. C., Lee, S., & Koh, S. (2001). Critical knowledge/skill Sets Required by Industries: An empirical analysis. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 101(8), 432–442. Young, D., & Lee, S. (1996). The relative importance of technical and interpersonal skills for New Information Systems Personnel. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 36(4), 66–71. David C. Yen is a professor of MIS and chair of the Department of Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems at Miami University. He received a Ph.D. in MIS and Master of Sciences in Computer Science from the University of Nebraska. Professor Yen is active in research, he has published two books and over 100 articles which have appeared in Communications of the ACM, Decision Support Systems, Information & Management, International Journal of Information Management, Information Sciences, Journal of Computer Information Systems, Interfaces, Telematics and Informatics, Computer Standards and Interfaces, Information Society, and Internet Research among others. He was also one of the co-recipients for a number of grants such as Cleveland Foundation (1987–1988), GE Foundation (1989), and Microsoft Foundation (1996–1997). Dr. Houn-Gee Chen is the Professor of Technology Management at National Tsing-Hua University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1988. Prior to joining the Tsing-Hua University, he was a faculty member at University of Notre Dame and National Chung-Cheng University. His research interests include e-commerce, management information systems, information technology, project management, and software quality. He is a recipient of the 1998 Outstanding Research Award at NCCU. Dr. Chen also received distinguished paper award of Information and Education in 1996, distinguished paper award of Sun Yat-Sen Management Reviews in 1998. Professor Chen has published over 30 articles in refereed journals and over 50 articles in conference proceedings since 1988. His research works had appeared in the journals like IEEE Transactions of System, Man, and Cybernetics, Communications of ACM, International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, Information and Management, International Journal of Production Research, Journal of Computer Information Systems, International Journal of Project Management, Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Journal of Manufacturing Systems, Computers and Operation Research, and others. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Information Management (Taiwan) and the Managing Editor of International Journal of Management Theory and Practices. Sooun Lee is a Professor of the Department of Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems, Richard T. Farmer School of Business Administration at Miami University. He received an MBA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Ph.D. in MIS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Professor Lee has been teaching in Miami.
  • 16. ARTICLE IN PRESS D.C. Yen et al. / International Journal of Information Management 23 (2003) 507–522 522 Seokha Koh is a professor of the Department of Management Information Systems at Chungbuk National University, South Korea. He received a Ph.D. and Master of Sciences in Management Science from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Professor Koh is active in research, he has published several articles which have appeared in Information & Management, Operations Research Letters, Journal of Optimization Theory & Applications, and Journal of Computer Information Systems, Telecommunication Systems, and Industrial Management & Data Systems among others. He was also a visiting scholar of Miami University, Ohio.

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