Origins of Information
To understand the nature of information processing, it is necessary to examine its origins. Research within the field of organization theory and communication suggests that there are two influences on information processing: uncertainty and ambiguity 1 (Daft and Macintosh, 1981; Weick, 1979b, 1995). Galbraith (1974) proposed that, as the level of uncertainty increases, the amount of information processed by organizational members increases to reduce uncertainty. Uncertainty is the difference between the amount of information required to perform a task and the amount of information already possessed by the organization. There are different types of uncertainty, as noted in Table A.2.1, yet the response of knowledge workers is the same, regardless of the type of uncertainty, namely the acquisition of additional information.
In contrast to uncertainty, ambiguity refers to the existence of multiple and conflicting interpretations about a situation within the organization (Weick, 1979b). When managers observe the environment, information cues are often ambiguous. As a result, they are