Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Searching Inside and Out: Organizational Identification Relationships and Information-Sourcing among Managers and Knowledge-Workers

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Searching Inside and Out: Organizational Identification Relationships and Information-Sourcing among Managers and Knowledge-Workers

Article excerpt

Today's organizations operate in challenging, unpredictable environments that are characterized by ever reducing life-cycles, rapid knowledge obsolescence, and ultra-competitive behavior (D'Aveni, 1991). In such settings, information obtained from within one's work unit and from outside the organization can be a critical determinant of organizational success (Macdonald, 1995; Anand et al, 1998). Effective information acquisition during decision-making enables employees to better understand their decision contexts, generate innovative solutions, anticipate changes that are likely to occur in the organizational environment, and better predict the outcomes of their decisions (Anand et al, 2002).

Historically, managers were the primary information gathering members in organizations. As boundary spanners, managers were responsible for acquiring information from outside of the organization (Thompson, 1967). Managers have also traditionally been central in the internal information networks of organizations. The ability of managers to control the internal flow of information served to reinforce their power in the organization (Johnson, 1996). In today's business environment, organizations often cannot compete if they rely solely on managers to perform information gathering and brokering activities. In many cases, managers oversee groups of expert workers who possess large amounts of knowledge that the managers do not know and could not understand (Johnson, 1996). This suggests that it is increasingly important to understand factors that influence the likelihood that managers and employees will acquire information from various sources, since that information directly impacts the knowledge applied to key issues and decisions.

Information-sourcing is defined as the extent to which an individual consults with and acquires information from a particular source (Mention and Asikainen, 2012). Previous research has indicated that information-sourcing depends on a variety of factors that include individuals' willingness to seek and share information, beliefs about the value of information in general, and trust in information emanating from specific sources (Borgatti and Cross, 2003; Xu et ai, 2010). Other researchers have theorized that the organizational context plays a strong role in influencing information-sourcing and knowledge transfer (Mention and Asikainen, 2012). A key aspect of such context is the form of relationships between employees and their organizations. Such associations can take the form of identification, disidentification, and ambivalent-identification (Elsbach, 1999; Kreiner and Ashforth, 2004). These "identification relationships" refer to the extent to, and manner in which, an individual's association with the organization is an important part of the individual's self-concept (Kreiner and Ashforth, 2004). Researchers have argued that these identification relationships impact the likelihood that employees question existing organizational beliefs, influence employees' willingness to share information (Hannah, 2007), and determine the amount of trust placed on information emanating from within and outside the organization (Anand et ai, 2013; DiSanza and Bullis, 1999). Thus, identification relationships seem to be theoretically suggested antecedents to organizational members' decisions to source information from others within their work unit or outside of the organization.

This study examines the manner in which employees' identification relationships with their firms impact their information-sourcing behaviors using a sample of employees (both managers and knowledge-workers) working in three large Israeli organizations. The study explores differences in external information-sourcing (i.e., information acquired from outside of the firm's boundaries) and internal information-sourcing. Internal information-sourcing is conceptualized as the gathering of information from within one's work group or business unit because in large, complex organizations employees' internal interactions are typically concentrated within their own units (Darr et al. …

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