Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma

By J. David Johnson | Go to book overview
Save to active project


[T]hey [Americans] judge that the diffusion of knowledge must necessarily be advantageous and the consequences of ignorance fatal. ( de Tocqueville, 1966)

[P]erfect knowledge is itself impossible, and an inherently impossible basis of social action and social relations. Put conversely, ignorance is both inescapable and an intrinsic element in social organization generally. ( Moore & Tumin, 1949, p. 788)

Information has always been a source of power, but it is now increasingly a source of confusion. In every sphere of modern life, the chronic condition is a surfeit of information, poorly integrated or lost somewhere in the system. ( Wilensky, 1968, p. 331)

Ignorance and information seeking are inextricably intertwined concepts ( Stigler , 1961). Ignorance, as used here, refers to a state where an individual is not aware of information related to organizational life, including procedures, policies, cultural factors, and events. So, ignorance exists when knowledge resides somewhere in the social system of which an individual is a part, yet the focal individual just does not have it. Ignorance by itself is not a sufficient condition for information seeking. Classically it is argued that a perceived need for the information is a necessary condition for information seeking to occur. Ignorance is thus different from ignoring, which often happens in an organization when an individual consciously knows that a problem exists, but chooses not to confront it.

Kerwin ( 1993) has developed a very useful classification scheme for mapping ignorance in terms of various levels of personal and societal (also read organizational) awareness and/or knowledge (see Table 5.1). Fundamentally, we can make a distinction between the things that are accepted as knowledge, although they might be socially constructed and subject to future paradigm


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 184

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?