Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Exploring the Role of Communication Media in the Informing Science Model: An Information Technology Project Management Perspective

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Exploring the Role of Communication Media in the Informing Science Model: An Information Technology Project Management Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

The goal of this paper is to expand understanding of the role of the medium or communication channel in the Informing Science framework. To achieve this goal, we explore prior research applying to the domain of Information Technology project risk related to communication. This domain can provide particular insight into communication, since such project teams tend to be more extreme in their nature than traditional work groups. For example, development of social relationships, including trust building within the project group, is more challenging in project groups than in other typical organizational work groups because of the transitory nature of project teams. In a project, a team is assembled for the express purpose of completing a specific project, i.e., "creating a unique product, service or result" instead of performing operational or routine work (Project Management Institute, 2008). Project team members may or may not have prior experience with any or all other project team members. They may or may not ever interact again with other team members after the end of the project. These differences can create additional barriers to building trust among team members. Further, the building of such trust is even more difficult on virtual project teams, when team members are not located in the same area and face-to-face communications are difficult or impossible.

In the Background section of this paper, we lay the foundation for our work by examining two Informing Science models (for traditional and complex communications), primary research into IT-related Communication, and research into Information Technology (IT) project risk. We then discuss how these areas relate. We specifically consider how the distinctions between traditional and virtual IT projects further enlighten and expand the Informing Science models. We conclude with implications and projections for the future.

Background

Informing Science Theory

Informing Science model for routine communication

The Informing Science framework of communication, shown in Figure 1, depicts both individual and compound complexities involved in communication, as well as the possible sources of such complexity (Cohen, 2009). The model breaks down communication into three distinct components: (1) the informer, (2) the medium, also referred to as the channel or communications pathway, and (3) the client/receiver of the communication (Cohen, 2009). Each component has its own limitations, which may impact the quality of some aspect of the communication. Together, the impacts on the components can create a compound effect, greatly increasing the limitations and reducing the effectiveness of the communication as a whole.

Prior researchers have explored the traditional Informing Science model for routine communication and extended the research on the complexities of the client/receiver component (Birdsall, 2009, Gill & Bhattacherjee, 2007; Gill & Hicks, 2006; Knight, Steinbach, & Hop, 2012). This paper seeks to take a similar approach but focuses on the communication medium instead of the informer or the client. The medium or channel is composed of many elements: a) the encoded message, b) the transfer method, c) the surrounding noise, and d) the context or environment. The involvement of these multiple elements increases complexity and necessitates parallel consideration of the Informing Science model for complex, non-routine communication.

Informing Science model for complex, non-routine communication

The routine/non-routine framework was created because of the many exceptions to the original Informing Science communication model (Gill & Cohen, 2009). Gill developed a framework, shown in Figure 2, showing the placement of routine and non-routine communications along two dimensions, sender knowledge of existing client models, and complexity of the information being conveyed (Gill, 2010). …

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