Academics’ e-learning adoption in higher education institutions: a matter of trust

Jorge Tiago Martins, Miguel Baptista Nunes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to examine how academics enact trust in e-learning through an inductive identification of perceived risks and enablers involved in e-learning adoption, in the context of higher education institutions (HEIs). Design/methodology/approach: Grounded Theory was the methodology used to systematically analyse data collected in semi-structured interviews with 62 academics. Data analysis followed the constant comparative method and its three-staged coding approach: open, axial and selective coding. Findings: The resulting trajectory of trust factors is presented in a Grounded Theory narrative where individual change and integration through shared collective understanding and institutionalisation are discussed as stages leading to the overcoming of e-learning adoption barriers. Originality/value: The paper proposes that the interplay between institutionalism and individualism has implications in the success or failure of strategies for the adoption of e-learning in HEIs, as perceived by academics. In practical terms, this points to the need for close attention to contextually sensitive trust-building mechanisms that promote the balance between academics’ commitments, values and sense of self-worth and centrally planned policy, rules, resources and exhortations that enable action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-331
Number of pages33
JournalLearning Organization
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adoption
  • E-learning
  • Grounded theory
  • Individualism
  • Information systems
  • Institutionalism
  • Organisational learning
  • Perceptions
  • Trust


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