This is an informational site that was apparently created by two undergraduate business students who were enrolled in Dr. Eliot Elfner?s (300 level) Personnel/Industrial Relations course at St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, during fall 2000. The site provides general overviews of theories and links relevant to their topic of ?Shaping Corporate Culture Through Leadership.? They state the purpose of the site is to ?show how corporate culture affects the development of an organization.? In particular, leadership theories such as LMX (Leader Member Exchange), Vroom and Yetton?s Normative Decision Making Theory, and Henry Mintzberg?s studies on motivation are integrated into the module in a series of pages designed to demonstrate the impact of leaders on corporate culture.
As determined by the stated objectives and author?s project summary page, the primary goal is to enable learners to define corporate culture and relate the various leadership theories to the development of increased overall business performance. A specific link entitled, ?Learning Objectives,? outlines several objectives for students expressed directly by the authors: 1. Students will be able to define the development stage of PRaSTARS. 2. Students will be able to define corporate culture. 3. Students will be able to define the Leader-member Exchange Theory. 4. Students will be able to define Vroom & Yetton's Normative Decision Making Theory. 5. Students will be able to relate the above leadership theories to corporate culture. 6. Students will be able to list the results of Mintzberg's Studies on Motivation. 7. Students will be able to relate the above topics to a case study of an organization. 8. Students will be able to demonstrate how the theories of leadership,
corporate culture, and Mintzberg's Studies affect the development stage of PRaSTARS.
Target Student Population:
College students. The target population is presumably undergraduate level students engaged in the study of personnel and industrial relations. However, the module would be beneficial to those pursuing closely related topics such as organizational behavior, leadership studies, and human resource management.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The authors identify none. In our opinion, prerequisites required depend on how the module will be used. If it is used to introduce a topic, then no prerequisites are required. If students use this as a primary instructional piece, they would need background to understand terms and concepts that are presented but not defined in the module.
Type of Material:
Standard Internet browser
Evaluation and Observation
The site introduces and provides brief outlines relevant concepts and models that can relate to the development of employees and organizations. The sequencing of information (one page leads to another, yet ever-present navigation buttons allow the random access to the entire site) seems logical, and well conceived. The personalization of the module through the inclusion of photos and brief biographical introductions adds a ?warm and user-friendly feel? that at least one reviewer finds appealing.
One valuable aspect of this module is that it demonstrates students? attempts to integrate the contributions of several theories and apply these to achieve a more unified understanding of leadership and culture. In other words, while the original point of this module?s creation may have been to address the subject matter at hand, it also exemplifies a prospective ?project assignment? for the use of educators teaching other courses (or students initiating proposals of their own). Students would probably find it very motivating to explore a site created by other students (especially other business students from another institution!). They would also probably enjoy an assignment that involves critiquing and elaborating on the site?s content.
This site can also serve as a model for assignments/projects that have students create web-based information sites for their peers.
This site would need to be used within the context of an assignment. Information is presented at a very cursory level, as the authors probably just overviewed or repositioned concepts that their primary audience (other students in their course) already learned in class. The links to more in-depth information are also limited,
as they are either overviews (e.g., copyrighted PowerPoint presentations that overview key concepts from a published text) or sites that have academic merit but are not intended for general use (e.g., Vroom and Yetton link). Also, the relationships between the various topics and theories are not explicitly explained.
The level of concern is associated with the level of scrutiny that might be applied: from one vantage point, the module is a nice example of creative (undergraduate) student work resulting from the use of current (web-enhanced) teaching technologies. For purposes of serious scholarship, the module is limited in depth-of-content, context, linkages (both in a theoretical and navigational sense), and ultimately, conclusiveness. While learning objectives are specified (a strong point), it is not altogether a certainty that they are achieved. Because several navigational links were not working, some additional richness may have been present at the time of the module?s original posting.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This module can be used to introduce the topic at hand: leadership is widely acknowledged to play an important role in shaping (and/or influencing) corporate culture. The module does introduce the idea that leadership, policies toward employee development, the effective use of motivational strategies, decision-making styles, and other factors ultimately impact organizational performance. This module can also be used to stimulate critical thinking; for example, since the authors assembled various theories from various sources into one site, instructors can add an assignment for students to evaluate the rationale and effectiveness of the authors? topic/theory choices and the organization of their presentation,
e.g., why did the authors choose the topics/theories they did? Are these topics/theories most relevant? Why did they order the site as they did? Is this order appropriate?
The effective use of this site on the part of educators would require an acknowledgement of its level and limitations in terms of scholarly robustness. Students must recognize the relative enormity of the topics addressed in this small space, and appreciate that the material represents a summarized view of evolving subjects: ?leadership? and its impact on shaping ?organizational culture.? In sum, this module would not be effective as a stand-alone instructional module. Although several learning objectives are presented, the site is not designed as instruction to enable their achievement; there is limited content, and no practice and feedback designed as part of this site.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is ?user friendly? in the sense that it is visually appealing and easy to navigate.
Some links are broken, and some links are to sites that appear to be designed for non-public use. Since the text of the site is in outline form, it would not be easy for students unfamiliar with the content to use and understand. Given the presumption that this module was constructed as part of a course project, however, and that the course is assumed to be over, it seems somewhat inappropriate to suggest that anything be ?fixed.? From a usability point of view (note the concerns about appropriate situations and disclaimers), the repair of broken links would bring the site up-to-date.