The purpose of this research was to investigate the e-readiness of warehouse workers in a supply chain management environment. Organisations increasingly contemplate e-learning as a training option to develop their employees. Globalisation of commercial ventures increasingly demands that organisations become more competitive by introducing Information Technology (IT). e-Learning is seen as a stepping stone for empowering employees. Supply-chain management organisations use unskilled warehouse workers to perform manual duties such as registering, storing and quick location of stock for distribution. IT supports these logistic procedures – emphasising the need to introduce e-learning to warehouse workers. Questionnaires confirmed that the unit of analysis was multi-racial, mostly black, between eighteen and sixty years old and of both genders. Their limited educational qualifications are representative of many similar developing communities of work across Africa. e-Learning requires access to technology, computer literacy, self-discipline, the drive to develop and the confidence to use technology to achieve objectives. Warehouse workers as developing communities are trapped by the digital divide amidst calls to bridge the divide by introducing IT to such communities. Questions are raised whether they have the discipline, motivation, and skills to learn from such a complex learning strategy. Interviewed corporate learning experts cautioned that specific infrastructures and personal attributes are crucial. Insufficient computer experience, anxiety and technophobia, may cause warehouse workers to become unlikely candidates for e-learning. My inquiry was an interpretive, qualitative case study, intent on understanding emotional, technical, and social aspects influencing e-readiness. I collected my data in four phases. Phase one was a questionnaire to collect biographical information of the warehouse workers. During phase two, by means of a Delphi technique, I established consensus from a group of e-learning experts of what ereadiness encompasses. Phase three consisted of interviews with and observations of workers performing their daily tasks and also while completing a computer-based tutorial. In phase four I conducted interviews with warehouse managers on their perceptions of the e-readiness of their workers. From the literature I extracted Reeves’ (1999) three learner inputs, as well as six fundamental categories of e-readiness. With these nine theory codes, I followed an inductive-deductive grounded theory approach to analyse the data. I constructed six sub-questions as basis for the enquiry. I tallied the frequencies of the conceptual codes of e-readiness and created an inventory of applicable conceptual codes according to the theory codes. Patterns of technical and affective experience, aptitude, origins of motivation, access to computer infrastructure and organisation culture culminated as my seven main findings on the e-readiness of warehouse workers. I determined inter alia that warehouse workers do not suffer from technophobia, nor are they really intimidated by technology. However, they need guidance and expert facilitation to become successful e-learners. They are aware that they are dependent on the organisation’s infrastructure to develop their skills and capabilities. Therefore, the e-maturity of an organisation can greatly benefit from warehouse workers’ involvement in e-learning.
Thesis (PhD (Curriculum Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.