Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma

By J. David Johnson | Go to book overview

TWO
HIERARCHIES, NETWORKS, AND MARKETS

In a market each element (individual, firm) pursues its own interest and the interaction between elements produces a collective outcome--the market coordinates the separate activities. Coordination by hierarchy is different in that the actions of similar elements (individuals, firms) are to some extent constrained. Hierarchy presupposes an already determined outcome or purpose; the underlying idea of hierarchy is that such an outcome can be broken down into a set of sub-processes. So hierarchy depends upon ideas of organization, task specialization and rationality. ( Mitchell, 1991, p. 104)

Communication structure research, which encompasses hierarchies, markets, and networks, has always been a central area of organizational communication inquiry. Structure has five central dimensions: relationships, entities, configurations, context, and temporal stability ( Johnson, 1993a). Hence, the following definition of structure: "Organizational communication structure refers to the relatively stable configuration of communication relationships between entities within an organizational context" ( Johnson, 1992, p. 100). Structure provides the basic framework within which information seeking can occur in organizations.

As an example, let us look at the formal and informal communication structures of Conundrum Corporation found in Figures 2.1 and 2.2. The organizational chart in Figure 2.1 specifies the formal division of roles and the official relationships within this organization. Following the formal organizational chart, there are official rules and protocols governing the seeking and giving of information. If the Vice President of Staff Services (#3) wanted information concerning the future supply needs of Group 2 of Product A, s/he would know where the information could be found and would channel his/her request through managers 1, 2, and 4. Needless to say, this would be cumbersome

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Information Seeking: An Organizational Dilemma
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • One Introduction and Overview 1
  • Two Hierarchies, Networks, and Markets 11
  • Three Information Fields 33
  • Summing Up 43
  • Four Information Carriers: A Focus on Channel Selection and Usage 45
  • Conclusion 65
  • Five Barriers to Information Seeking or the Benefits of Ignorance 69
  • Summary 96
  • Six Strategies for Seekers (and Nonseekers) 99
  • Summary 112
  • Seven Strategies for Managers 113
  • Summary 131
  • Bibliography 151
  • Index 177
  • About the Author 181
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