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The Overlooked Role Of Local Experts In Learning To Use Technology In Public Organizations

Author: DANIEL WOLDESENBET and WILLIAM EARLE KLAY
Published in PAQ, Vol. 40 No. 4

Information technology (IT) can enhance organizational productivity, but only if it is learned well by employees. Unfortunately, researchers and practitioners have largely neglected the informal social processes through which employees learn to use IT. This is a study of public employees who voluntarily help others to learn. The objective was to learn how these “local experts” assist co-workers and why they do so. It finds they are motivated by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors, including altruism. Local experts seek to enhance their organization’s productivity by taking the lead in learning new technology and helping others to master it. In doing so, they become sophisticated diagnosticians and trainers who are largely overlooked by top management. The findings of this study can be immediately applied by practitioners in nearly all organizations to help their local experts to enhance employees’ learning and productivity.

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