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Technology pushes change but fundamentals remain

WHILE technology is playing a part in management education – both in the curriculum and its delivery – the fundamentals remain the same.

The growth of the Internet has broadened the scope in how trainers can reach their classes.

The University of WA’s Management Development Institute – now a part of the Graduate School of Management – was developing a program for engineering giant ABB.

That program was to be delivered via the company’s Intranet.

Unfortunately, the Asian currency crisis sparked a restructure within ABB and the MDI program was lost, but the technological possibilities remain.

TMP Worldwide consulting services director Zelko Lendich, who headed the MDI during the ABB period, said online training delivery still had a long way to go.

He said it had its place with more product specific training but bandwidth and connectivity constraints reduced its effectiveness for delivering management training.

“There needs to be a quantum leap forward before online training will be interesting enough for people to become involved. There will always be people who will want to be involved with people,” Mr Lendich said.

Within the management development sphere, courses revolving around electronic commerce and computer skills have become essentials on most curriculums.

Computer skills training has come to the fore because of the changing face of the workplace.

Australian Institute of Management WA deputy executive director training and development Richard Duldig said technology had reallocated work.

“As a consequence of improved technology, a lot of secretarial and support work is now being done by managers,” Mr Duldig said.

“And many managers are communicating through e-mails now.”

Electronic commerce is also taking up a major part of management training.

Mr Duldig said the AIM’s courses on e-commerce had proved particularly popular as companies came to terms with it and how it fitted into their organisation.

“Come what may, e-commerce is a key area of management,” he said.

However, Mr Duldig said the development of key management skills, such as people management, team building, organisational culture and dealing with change remained fundamentally the same.

“There is a lot more information around now, so therefore managers have to be more discerning about what the look at,” he said.

UWA Graduate School of Management e-commerce lecturer Steve Bellman said people management skills had become more important than ever before.

“You are now dealing with knowledge workers,” Dr Bellman said.

“When you have people thinking up ideas for your company you want to keep them lest they go to your competition.

“In the old days workers were treated as human capital with a set cost.”

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