Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma

By J. David Johnson | Go to book overview
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THREE
INFORMATION FIELDS

Information seeking can be broadly related to two major sources of influence on the individual. First, there is a set of utilitarian imperatives that demand certain levels of information seeking by the individual that relate to task requirements. These requirements often transcend the embedded, physical elements of the organization and compel individuals to seek information wherever it might be.

Second, there is a set of forces embedded in an individual's immediate physical and social environment, called their information fields, which stimulate an individual to seek certain types of information and that also incidentally expose individuals to ambient information they were not actively seeking. This type of accidental exposure may cue people to more active searches.

An individual's information field provides the context and the starting point for individual information seeking. Thus, information fields represent the typical arrangement of information stimuli to which an individual is daily exposed. Information fields contain resources, constraints, and carriers of information that influence the nature of an individual's information seeking ( Hagarstrand, 1953; Archea, 1977). For an upper level manager this information field might be incredibly rich, including access to computerized information retrieval, specialists, other managers the individual knows personally, and subscriptions to a wide array of publications. On the other hand, a lower level organizational employee, in a remote outpost of the organization, might be limited in the sources he/she can easily consult for information.

Individuals are embedded in a physical world that involves recurring contacts with an interpersonal network of managers and co-workers. They are also exposed to the same mediated communication channels (company news bulletins, local newspapers, television news, etc.) on a regular basis. Typically, an

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