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WHEN 'VIRTUAL' MEETS VALUES: INSIGHTS FROM THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR

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Electronic networking can support strategic re-positioning within organizations seeking to respond effectively to deep shifts in the social, economic and political regimes in which they operate today. Evidence, though, from our large-scale survey of core UK voluntary organizations suggests that voluntary organizations do not always seek to exploit this capability. Instead, our survey indicates that voluntary organizations are exploiting information and communication technologies (ICTs) in conventional ways to enhance administrative and operational efficiency and effectiveness. There is little evidence of more strategic applications supporting reconfiguration of the organization internally, redefinition of relationships across organizational networks or the extension of business scope. Further research based upon in-depth case studies demonstrated that social conditions are active in shaping the uptake and application of information and communication technologies within voluntary organizations. Within volunteer-intensive settings in particular,founding philosophies and the deeply rooted values that accompany these can have a profound effect. Ultimately,the technologically supported transformations, which occur within the organizations that we examine here, emerge from the inter-play between historically institutionalized values, strategic objectives and technological capability.
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Keywords: INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES; INSTITUTIONALISM; STRATEGIC POSITIONING; VOLUNTARY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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