Antecedents of Collaborative Networked Learning in Manufacturing
Quik, Wee Hock (Danny)
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This study aims to investigate the antecedents of collaborative networked learning (hereafter CNL), to develop an integrative CNL framework and to bridge the gap between theory and praxis in manufacturing. Although collaborative learning has been at the forefront of educational and pedagogical studies, there is a lack of research in the mainstream of operations management and information systems. This study explores the antecedents of CNL and the sharing of information among diverse employees within the context of manufacturing industries in Malaysia. The study further extends the boundary of networked learning beyond internal enterprises to include suppliers, customers and external stakeholders. To provide a holistic perspective of CNL within the complexity of the manufacturing environment required a mixed-method research approach, including empirical investigation using survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The qualitative findings from the interviews were corroborated with a 246 quantitative survey of multinational companies (MNCs) and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia. SPSS software was used for statistical analysis and NVivo for content analysis. The findings and discussions draw upon socio-technical systems (STS) theory, and present the theoretical context and interpretations through the lens of manufacturing employees. Results of the study show the existence of significant positive influences of organizational support, promotive interactions, positive interdependence, internal-external learning, perceived effectiveness and perceived usefulness of CNL among manufacturing employees. The study further provides insights into information sharing and collaboration within MNCs and SMEs. Although employees in MNCs are more engaged in CNL compared to SMEs, a general consensus is found on the importance of collaborative technologies, the usage of online meetings and shared databases. The study offers a basis for empirical validity for measuring CNL in organizational learning, knowledge and information sharing in manufacturing.