Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Sources of Information Usage by Public Servants: An Empirical Study in Kuwait

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Sources of Information Usage by Public Servants: An Empirical Study in Kuwait

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study is to investigate the information needs of public managers in Kuwait. Four information behavior dimensions (information characteristics, information types, information sources, and obstacles to information usage and access) are used to paint a picture of public managers' information behavior. A sample of 321 public managers working in 18 Kuwaiti ministries is used in this study. The main source for the study's data is a questionnaire which is completed by the respondents and return to the researcher. The study's findings provide empirical evidence that Kuwaiti public managers do have unique information behavior characteristics compared to others reported in the literature. More specially, study's findings indicated that the usefulness characteristics, information type related to organizational plans and procedures, traditional information, and problems related to lack of coordination between agencies and lack of new technologies are, respectively, ranked as the most important in the four information behavior dimensions previously defined. Furthermore, the study's findings indicate that two contextual variables, gender and management level, play a role in changing information behavior.

Introduction

There are three elements fundamental to all human activity: information, energy and materials (Sanders and Birkm, 1 980). All these elements are necessary to provide humans with what they need. For example, we need information in our daily lives in order to make simple decisions such as buying something like potato chips. Even this elementary type of decision-making requires certain information, for example the price, the nutritional value, and the brand name. In addition to supporting physical production, information is also the substance of all human intellectual activity. It is the basis of education, government, literature, and business. Hum an beings have recognized the importance of information since the beginning of civilization and many civilizations developed ways to manage information. For example, the ancient Babylonian merchants kept records on clay tablets, and the Greeks and Romans developed records audits, banking systems and budgets, while both the ancient Egyptians and the Islamic Empire developed an administrative system for record -keeping.

In every aspect of modern life people are influenced by information generated by other people and technology; and many more people are involved in the process of creating and distributing information and knowledge than in the mass production of goods (Breen, 2005). Consequently, modern organizations are more heavily dependent on the effective management of information for their operations and ultimate success. Due to this vital role of information, organizations have invested substantial time and financial resources in developing ways to manage information. Among the key, and indeed the first, elements of these efforts is the identification of managers' information needs which should be used as the basis for building effective and efficient information management systems.

The aim of this is paper, therefore, is to provide preliminary insights into the information needs of public sector managers using the characteristics of information and information sources reported in the literature; and, further, to provide a platform for future research in this area. This issue, identification of managers' information needs, is significant for public organizations because these types of organization are by nature information rich organizations where huge amounts of information are collected, analyzed and distributed. Thus, any mismanagement of information may have a huge negative impact in all areas of society due to the increasing role of government.

Literature Review

The two concepts "managers" and "information" have a close connection. This connection can be easily understood when we look at the core managerial activities and how they are performed. …

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