The Technology Manager's Journey: An Extended Narrative Approach to Educating Technical Leaders

September 2009
Academy of Management Learning & Education;Sep2009, Vol. 8 Issue 3, p337
Academic Journal
Technology management poses particular challenges for educators because it requires facility with different kinds of knowledge and wide-ranging learning abilities. We report on the development and delivery of an information technology (IT) management course designed to address these challenges. Our approach is built around a narrative, the "IVK extended case series," a fictitious but reality-based story about a newly appointed, not-technically-trained chief information officer (CIO) in his first year on the job. We designed the course around a narrative and composed the narrative in a specific way to achieve two key objectives. First, this format allowed us to combine the active student orientation typical of case-based approaches with the systematic construction of cumulative theoretical frameworks more characteristic of lecture-based methods. Second, basing the narrative on the monomyth, a literary pattern common to important narratives around the world, encourages students to more fully inhabit the story's hero, which leads to fuller engagement and more active learning. We report results using this approach with undergraduate and graduate students in two universities located in different countries, and with executives at a major multinational corporation and an open enrollment program at a major business school. Student course feedback and a follow-up survey administered about 1 year after the course suggest that the extended narrative approach mostly achieves its design objectives. We suggest that the approach might be used more widely in teaching technology management, particularly with "digital natives," who have come of age in an environment crowded with engaging approaches to communication and entertainment competing for their attention.


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