How can businesses in the United Arab Emirates make use of computer-supported-cooperative work (CSCW) in order to enhance productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets?
In this regard, this research study will look at various businesses in the UAE and assess their level of using computer technology in their business operations. In addition to this, the study will identify factors and variables that affect the level of using computer technology in businesses in the UAE. Likewise, it will also assess the features and benefits of using CSCW as it applies to businesses in the UAE. Through this parallel analysis, a better understanding of how CSCW may be implemented in the business environment in the UAE will be explored.
Introduction to Dissertation
The economy of the United Arab Emirates is a wonder. From being too dependent on oil, it managed to diversify its economic performance through the revenues from oil and gas. Beginning 2005, it was able to overcome its budget deficit and replace it with a surplus. The industries being developed in the country includes the telecommunications and banking, even the stock markets of the UAE are developing and growing.
Given these growth of these industries, it is very important to ensure that the growth is sustainable and that these industries should be able to compete both in the domestic and international markets. This is because of the increasing globalization of the economies of the world. Ensuring competitiveness, better productivity and efficiency mandates the need to use all available resources. The information technology revolution and the ever increasing popularity of the Internet are revolutionizing the way that businesses are being run all over the world.
Given this scenario, the businesses in the UAE can no longer ignore the fact that they have to compete using every technological means available. The framework of computer supported cooperative work will help them achieve this level of competitiveness, productivity and efficiency in the market.
Brief Literature Review
The United Arab Emirates is in a very good position in the Arab world today. It is showing the great potential for growth. However, it has been noted that the Arab world is not maximizing the use of computers and internet technology. This trend has a negative impact in the sustainability of business undertakings and in the overall economic growth. Given the widespread use of computers and information technology all over the world, businesses in the UAE have a tendency to lag behind their competitors who are using these technologies.
The overriding intention for using computers and information technology, hence, is twofold. For one, computers and the Internet help enhance the overall communication scheme of any company”coordination, and the provision of directives are easily accomplished. On the other hand, computers and the Internet also help businesses gain important information that will help in the overall improvement of the business. Using computers also empower the employees of any given company and enhances the level of output and coordination that they have with their colleagues (Hayes & Walsham, 2000).
Timely and accurate communications will lead to greater efficiency of business operations. In turn, greater efficiency will lead to better productivity. It must be noted, however, that improving productivity should still be coupled with other business processes, which may or may not be aided by the use of computer supported cooperative work. When productivity is enhanced, then profits will go up, enabling the company to save and divert these savings to the accumulation of capital or increasing their base of operations.
This can then be used as the spring board for UAE companies to boost their competitiveness, and quite possibly, embark on a strategy to extend their operations to other countries in the Gulf region and in the world. In implementing CSCW in the UAE, however, both the technical and non-technical aspects should be considered. Under the technical aspect, the software for CSCW should be chosen carefully. It should be flexible, and easily adaptable to the particular contexts of the people using it (Dittrich & Lindeberg, 2003).
In the context of the UAE, such software should take into account the language of the people working there. It should also demonstrate cultural sensitivity wherever possible. In addition to the technical aspect, the non-technical aspect of implementation of CSCW should also be undertaken. Issues of training, organization culture, leadership and matching suitable employees to their areas of expertise in the framework of CSCW should be considered.
In this regard, Ackerman (2000) took note of the social-technical divide that pervades CSCW frameworks. As such, the norms for the interactions between people should not be taken over completely by the norms of human-computer interactions. In a society such as the UAE, this is of particular importance in putting CSCW to work in the business settings.
Although this proposal has presented a brief literature review, the final study will follow the following outline. First, the literature review will delved with the recent revolutions in the area of information and communication technologies and the driving forces behind this revolution. In addition to that, the impact of this revolution to the economy will be explored. Varian, Shapiro, and Farells (2004) The Economics of Information Technology is a good starting point on the forces driving this revolution as well as the effects of this revolution in businesses around the world.
From a macro perspective, this literature will then focus on the performance of the UAE in terms of integrating telecommunications in the society, especially in business settings and operations. Ayish (2005), conducted a study of 20 organizations in the UAE and their usage of internet in propagating information within the organization and to the world. In addition to this, the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2006, published by the United Nations (2006) will help the researcher understand the overall situation of the prospect of growth in the way that UAE citizens and organizations use computers and information technologies. The literature review will also look at the various research methods and approaches used in analyzing the use of computers in various organizations in the country.
Data Collection and Data Analysis
This study will make extensive use of the case study as a research method. This research method will delve deeply into the strategies being used by companies in the UAE to ensure productivity and efficiency. Special attention would be given to the computers, information technology systems and the internet that they are utilizing. The product and services of these companies will also be analyzed in relation to the market where they are serving. Corollary to this, the immediate economic environment and competitiveness of these companies will be analyzed through content analysis and by going through secondary data.
As such, the needs of these companies will be identified and analyzed alongside the trends in the market. Moreover, their needs for the use of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). The benefits of using the CSCW will also be analyzed. These will then be applied to the setting of the various companies under consideration with the interest of arriving at a framework that integrates the use of CSCW in the overall business operations in such a way that the productivity and efficiency of the business firm is enhanced.
In other words, the variables that this study will look at and measure are: (1) the level of reliance of companies on computer and other related technologies; (2) the effectiveness of the communication and coordination processes that the organization uses to deliver products and services; (3) the responsiveness of the employees of the organization in using CSCW; (4) the impact of external trends and situations in the organizations drive to achieve its targets; and (5) the suitability of CSCW for the use of business organizations in the UAE.
The study will use a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to achieve a greater level of reliability and validity. According to Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004), the mixed-method kind of research draws upon the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative analysis, which enables the researcher to draw upon several methodologies in measuring the variables of the study.
The results of this study will be collated, compared, and analyzed. These data will be presented through various visual presentations such as tables, graphs and charts for easy reference. This will make comparisons and analyses easier and will make plainer the relationships between the variables and factors that shall have been identified by this study. The relationships between variables shall be highlighted.
Presentation of Analysis and Outcome of Study
The result of the methods employed will be presented in an easy to understand manner, and in tables or matrices where possible. Such an analysis will help highlight the relationships between the variables identified in the study. These variables will then be used to formulate a set of guidelines that will help business organizations implement CSCW in their organization. Through this set of guidelines, they will be able to make the transition and implementation as smooth as possible and they will be able to avoid the pitfalls in conducting such an endeavor.
Significance of this Study
The expected outcome of this study is a set of guidelines or framework for the integration of CSCW in the operations of business firms with the intent of enhancing their productivity and efficiency. Such a framework would be very helpful for firms that are operating locally in the UAE, as well as for those that conduct operations abroad. It would also set the foundation for future work exploring this same issue.
Through the framework that will be established by this study, the global competitiveness of companies in the UAE will be enhanced. Moreover, those who are not already reaping the benefits that computer support cooperative work offers can begin to explore it and not long after, they will be able to use it. Seen from a wider perspective, the use of CSCW in the business organizations in the UAE will help make businesses more viable in this kind of situation.
Structure of the Study
The different parts of this study, together with their brief descriptions may be found in the section below.
The Introduction will contain basic information about the subject matter, about the research questions and topic under investigation, as well as the environmental context in which the study may be situated.
The Literature Review
The Literature review presents the findings of articles and books written on the subject. Through this, the major points, observations and debates in the research topic will be explored, thereby making the researcher familiar with the research topic.
It is in this section that the methodology, the research tools will be outlined so that the researcher will have a definitive guide as to the way that he will get the important data for the analysis of the research topic and question.
Summary of Results
Based on the research design, the kinds of data that will be collected and the summary and salient points of the summary should be presented in graphical format such as tables and graphs.
Analysis and Recommendation
Based on the results generated, the data will be analyzed and the trends and relationships between variables will be established. Lastly, an action point or call to action may be instituted in this last part of the paper.
Ackerman, M. S. (2000). The Intellectual Challenge of CSCW: The Gap Between Social Requirements and Technical Feasibility. Human-Computer Interaction, 15 (2-3), 179-203.
Ayish, M. (2005). Virtual Public Relations in the United Arab Emirates: A Case Study of 20 UAE Organizations Use of the Internet. Public Relations Review, 31 (3), 381-388.
Dittrich, Y. & Lindeberg, O. (2003). Designing for Changing Work and Business Practices. In Patel, N. V. (Ed). Adaptive Evolutionary Information Systems, (pp. 152-157). Hershey, PA, IGI Global.
Hayes, N. & Walsham, G. (2000). Competing Interpretations of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work in Organizational Contexts, Organization, 7 (1), 49-67.
Johnson, R. B. & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2004). Mixed Methods Research: A Research Paradigm Whose Time Has Come. Educational Researcher, 33 (7), 14-26.
United Nations (2006). World Economic Situation and Prospects 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2007 from http://www.un.org/esa/policy/wess/wesp2006files/wesp2006.pdf.
Varian, H. R., Shapiro, C. & Farell, J. V. (2004). The Economics of Information Technology: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.