For many years, administrative theories have evolved and have been concerned with training of organization collaborators, seeking to use activities which minimize operational flaws in the current administration of knowledge as a tool for sustaining competitive advantages.
According to Niskier (1999), distance education offers advantages such as reduction of costs, access for a larger number of individuals, integration of different educational resources and the possibility of constant updating. In this sense, an important subject related to the use of distance education in training activities is the measurement of current organizational results in the application of such a methodology. It is necessary to identify the criteria and relevant indicators for this evaluation process.
Training and Development Perspectives
The management of human resources in the last 10 years has had a larger involvement in the executive decision processes aiming for results through the alignment of human potential with the strategic focus of the organization. To Bohlander, Snell and Sherman (2003), the term “training” is frequently used in a casual way to describe the efforts of a company to stimulate its members to learn.
The Importance of Performance Indicators
Organizations are using different systems of performance evaluation focused on their processes and, consequently, their results. There are methods capable of evaluating organizational excellence with a wider view than just the financial one: in other words, the operational environment of participants and stakeholders (people, creditors, suppliers and others who have a direct economical bond with the company).
In the process of defining criteria and performance indicators, there are some essential considerations regarding indicators, such as their essential characteristics, criteria and classification which are focus indicators using the Quality approach (Takashina and Flores 1995; Camargo 2000), and especially the indicators of the Balanced Scorecard approach (Kaplan and Norton 1997).
The Quality approach – Takashina and Flores (1995) argue that an indicator should be generated carefully, in a way that ensures the readiness of the data and more relevant results in the shortest possible time and at the lowest cost. To Camargo (2000) there are essential parameters in the generation of the quality indicators: selectivity or importance; simplicity and clarity; comprehensiveness, traceability and accessibility; comparability; stability, accessibility and affordability.
METHOD OF RESEARCH
This research is characterized as an exploratory and qualitative study. The techniques for collection of data were interviews with distance education speciahsts and the analysis of cases of virtual corporate training. The objective of the interviews was to identify relevant aspects in the evaluation of distance education systems used by companies, according to the views of specialists.
Forty speciahsts from universities, consultancies and Brazilian companies were contacted. The sample was characterized by accessibility and convenience. Among the group who were researched, eight interviews took place.
DESCRIPTIONS AND ANALYSIS OF RESULTS
After bibliographical research into the definition of criteria and indicators and analysis of interviews with the distance education speciahsts, it was verified that: distance education specialists place greater emphasis on evaluation of leaning, while the managers of Training and Development defined a larger range of criteria and indicators, especially evaluation of the results. However, this suggested that criteria, rather than specific indicators, were easier to evaluate and therefore there were some gaps between the two. The reaction stage was more easily analyzed by the specialists in the context of the business practice cases. Li the behavior phase, it was observed that it was more difficult to examine criteria and indicators.
As a result of the research up to the present moment, a model composed of criteria and indicators of evaluation of virtual training, which structure is based on training evaluation phases proposed by Kirkpatrick (1998): reaction, leaning, behavior, and results. Such arrangement has resulted from a coalition of criteria and indicators of the revision of literature, interviews with the specialists and analysis of the business practice cases.