The socio-economic effects of digital technologies on Australian academics and farmers

Mamun, Md Shamsul Arifeen Khan (2015) The socio-economic effects of digital technologies on Australian academics and farmers. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

This thesis investigated the social and economic effects of digital technologies, and in particular information and communication technologies (ICTs), on the Australian
academics and farmers in the context of an ongoing emphasis by the Australian government on the digital economy.

I am motivated to conduct the research because politicians and scholars feel that the digital economy is a way ahead for improving the living standards of general Australians. Although a substantial research initiative has already been undertaken by previous researchers to examine the benefits of modern ICTs (information and communication technologies) in society, the extent of benefits (or problems)
associated with the expansion of digital infrastructure facilities are yet to be estimated for at least two sectors of the economy – higher education and agriculture. In the given context of the Australian Government’s policy on the digital future, this thesis aims to study the effects of digital technologies, particularly ICTs, on academics and
farmers in Australia. The direction of effects encompasses social and economic aspects only.

I used three types of theories: affordance theory; Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1980) theory of reasoned action; and the theory of (research) production function. With regard to research methodology, I used qualitative, quantitative and a combination of both (i.e. mixed) research approaches. The data used in this study was drawn from two sources: – (i) a primary source and (ii) a secondary source. The source of the primary data was academic teaching staff members of the University of Southern Queensland, and the source of secondary data was the Australian Department of Agriculture.

The thematic analysis showed that, because of the use of eLearning environments, the teaching academics at USQ perceived that their workload had increased. This was labelled as 'perceived increased workloads' in this study. From this study, three broad themes emerged. These themes were classified as temporal, pedagogical and technical limitations, and were attributed to the 'perceived
workloads?' of the academics. This was the theoretical knowledge contribution of this thesis.

Using factor analysis , I found evidence of both positive and negative attitudes of university academic staff members to ICTs.

Next, using Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1980; 2005) theory of reasoned action, a and cross-tabulation analysis, I found that the native-English language status of the academic had a statistically significant association with the variation of attitudes to ICTs. My non-parametric regression analysis also confirmed a statistically significant relationship between the language status of the teaching academics and the variations on their attitudes to ICTs.

Further, Using primary survey data and regression analysis, I found a statistically significant relationship between the teaching academics’ use of the Internet per week and their research performances. Finally, using secondary data, the theory of production of microeconomics and regression analysis, I found the relationship between Australian farmers’ expenditure for telephone facilities (a variable of CTs) and their agricultural revenue. In this study, I found a statistically significant positive relationship between the farmers’ agricultural revenue and the
farmers’ expenditure on their uses of telephones.

The contributions of this research to existing knowledge are as follows. From the teaching academics’ perspective, the affordances of an eLearning environment encompass pedagogical, temporal and technological limitations that contributed to the teaching academics’ 'perceived workloads'? Secondly, the empirical research supports Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1980) theory regarding the relationship between the native language status of the academics, which is a social-demographic factor, and their attitudes to using ICTs. Thirdly, the empirical research supports the idea that the Internet is an important physical factor of the research production function. The contribution of the Internet is obvious because it represents a form of digital
infrastructure facility. In the future, research should model a research (or knowledge) production function that incorporates the digital capital in the production function;
otherwise, the study may generate biased results because of the endogeneity problem. Fourthly, and finally, I have found that telecommunication is an important physical
factor of agricultural production, which means that, similarly to manufacturing and service sectors, the agricultural sector can reap benefits from the use of digital technologies, which has been so far largely unreported in the literature.

The implications of digital futures lie in a number of government initiatives directed at the university and agricultural sectors of the economy. This includes
overcoming the limitations encountered by academics and expanding the national broadband network infrastructure facilities to remote Australian regions.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce
Supervisors: Danaher, Patrick; Rahman, Mafiz
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2015 06:07
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2015 06:07
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital technologies; information and communication technologies; social effects; economic effects; Australian; academics; farmers; University of Southern Queensland; Australian Department of Agriculture
Fields of Research : 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140201 Agricultural Economics
08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0806 Information Systems > 080602 Computer-Human Interaction
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28246

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