Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma

Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma

Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma

Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma


How do people in organizations get the information they need to do their work, and what are the effects of their research - positive and negative - on their organizations? Indeed, says the author of this unique, provocative study, the forces that promote ignorance within organizations often outweigh the drive to obtain knowledge. Johnson explores both sides of the information-seeking dilemma, the reasons why people do and do not look for and get the information they need - and why the multi-billion-dollar technologies that have been developed to facilitate information gathering so often fail. Research-based, with a model to explain how information seeking works in organizations, Dr. Johnson's book is fascinating, essential reading not only for gatherers of information in all types of organizations, but for the purveyors, their technological support staffs.


I wrote this book for a combination of personal and professional reasons. Recently, I have engaged in sponsored research focusing on cancer-related information seeking (e.g., Johnson &Meischke, 1993), a matter of some importance to my family. Individuals increasingly find that they must choose between an array of alternatives based on often very limited knowledge. Thus, information seeking, literally, is an important survival tool for individuals.

As I became more interested in the general concept, I began to see the pervasiveness of issues surrounding information seeking to almost every aspect of our social lives, especially to modern organizations. This book highlights the importance and pervasiveness of information seeking in organizations, and develops models and analytic frameworks to promote a comprehensive understanding of information seeking. Information seeking often represents a dilemma, balancing many negative and positive aspects, for the organization. Indeed, the forces promoting ignorance in organizations often outweigh imperatives to seek information.

This book explores both sides of the information-seeking dilemma, examining reasons why people do and do not seek information. While the benefits of information seeking are well known, we know very little about the processes that have led to the failure of most information technologies designed to support it. Since literally billions of dollars are spent inappropriately on information technologies, a greater understanding of strategies that promote information seeking is needed. This book specifies general strategies that management and workers can employ to enhance information seeking.

As I investigated information seeking in greater depth, I was struck by how little was known about such an important issue. Especially lacking were systematic, in-depth theoretical treatments and associated rigorous empirical . . .

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