A Case Study of the Microcomputerization of the UCLA Graduate School of Management


Jason Frand

Table of Contents

1  The Decision Process
2  The Social-Technical Environment
3  Hardware Allocation Process
4 Curriculum Integration
5  Impact of the Microcomputerization Effort
6 GSM in 1990: A Sketch of the Future
7  Conclusion


During the past five years the use of computers at the Graduate School of Management (GSM) has grown exponentially. Even though computers have been available and used as an important computational tool for the past thirty years, their impact has only now become pervasive. Faculty and students alike turn to the computer as a support tool; almost 100% of the students and 75% of the faculty use computers regularly. The opportunity for this growth was made possible as a result of various equipment grants. Given this opportunity, GSM faculty and staff have worked toward the successful implementation and thorough penetration of the technology into all aspects of the program. This case study summarizes many of GSM's successes and problems, and GSM's plans for the future.

In Fall, 1984, GSM began introducing microcomputers throughout the School. The previous three years had been spent planning and writing proposals and the past two years trying to learn, live with, and accommodate the new technology. This six-year period 1981-86 is the primary focus of this case study.

We begin with a historical review of the computer planning process at GSM and a discussion of the social-technical environment -- a look at the shifts in values and attitudes that have occurred. The study continues with a discussion of the resource allocation scheme that emerged and a description of three major curriculum experiments. Next, a general assessment of the impact of the technology is presented. The case study closes with a glimpse into the future -- GSM in 1990 -- what may evolve from our investment in information technology.

GSM has approximately 80 permanent faculty, 850 MBA and 125 Ph.D. students, and a two-year Executive MBA program with 110 students.  Computers have been used at GSM for approximately 30 years. Prior to 1982, computing at GSM was mainframe-oriented, using the central campus systems with access via punched cards and hard copy terminals. Users were charged for system access, and such funds were always at a premium. Beginning in 1982, GSM received the first of a series of major equipment grants, acquiring its own Hewlett-Packard 3000 minicomputer that provided non-recharge interactive access. In the Fall of 1984, GSM provided HP 150 microcomputers to one-third of the faculty and established a microcomputer laboratory for the students. In the Summer of 1985, half of the GSM faculty received an HP110 lap-top microcomputer and during 1985-86, most of the remaining GSM faculty were provided with IBM desktop microcomputers and the student lab expanded from 20 to 60 systems. Thus, the microcomputerization of the School was well underway. Some of these major computing events at GSM during the past thirty years are summarized in Table 1. The extensive hardware growth during the past five years is summarized in Table 7.

Commensurate with this hardware growth has been GSM's financial commitment to computerization. During the past two years GSM has been trying to clearly identify all of its computing expenses -- a most arduous task under the best of circumstances. The budget included current operating support for the approximately 2.5 million dollars in hardware and software acquired from its grant efforts between 1982 and 1986.

*  This case study was adapted from a my 1987 monograph The Microcomputerization of Business Schools.

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Adapted from orignal 1987 monograph
November 1, 2002