Tensions and Contradictions in Information Management

The thesis aims to contribute to the research on the management and use of information in organisations by providing a holistic understanding of the various information practices and needs as well as attitudes towards information at different levels in the broader socio-historical context of a specific organisation. To this end, findings and approaches from research traditions in library and information science, management studies and organisational theory are combined in an activity-theoretical approach with some neo-institutional aspects. An empirical study using this theoretical framework investigates information activities in a Swedish youth organisation with the aim of contributing to peace and democracy. This study aims to answer research questions concerning how the individual and collective information practices of its Board members and the development of organisational strategies and routines for information activities are related to each other and to the socio-historical context of such organisations. The empirical data was gathered, firstly, through a qualitative case study of one youth/peace organisation, in which 14 members from two Boards were interviewed, 6 meetings were observed and e-mail communication and organisational documents were studied. The results were used in two questionnaires to Board members in a total sample of 9 similar youth/peace organisations to explore the assumption that a common socio-historical context would result in similar activities and constraints. Environmental scanning, seeking information, storing and retrieving information, creating information products, disseminating information to the environment and sharing information within the organisation are identified as distinct information activity systems in the case organisation that could be combined in a broader information management activity system. The outcome of Board members’ individual, collective and organisational actions within these activities is mediated by a combination of how they perceive the objects, the available tools and resources…


1. Introduction
1.1. Research questions
1.2. Relevance
1.3. Disposition
2. Information behaviour and information management
2.1. The research field of information management
2.1.1. Systems, processes and practice
2.1.2. Epistemological Assumptions
2.2. Relevant research on information management and information behaviour
2.2.1. How voluntary or non­governmental organisations use information resources: the organisational level
2.2.2. How people in organisations seek, manage and use information: the individual level
2.3. Summary
3. Voluntary youth/peace organisations in Sweden
3.1. Youth/Peace organisations today: definitions and statistics
3.1.1. Voluntary organisations
3.1.2. Youth organisations
3.1.3. Peace organisations
3.2. Expectations, aims and functions
3.2.1. Popular movements and democracy schools
3.2.2. Expectations of young members
3.2.3. Campaigning, fostering, or providing service?
3.3. Summary
4. Theory
4.1. Activity theory
4.1.1. The activity system
4.1.2. Tools
4.1.3. Operation – action – activity and neighbour activities
4.1.4. The logic of appropriateness
4.1.5. Development
4.2. An information activity system
4.2.1. Actions
4.2.2. Goals
4.2.3. Subjects
4.2.4. Tools and resources
4.2.5. Values and rules
4.2.6. Division of labour
4.2.7. Objects
4.2.8. Outcome
4.2.9. A model of an information activity system
4.3. Conclusion
5. Method
5.1. Theory and method
5.2. Understanding activity systems
5.3. Pilot study
5.4. Case study
5.4.1. Choice of organisation and confidentiality agreement
5.4.2. Design
5.4.3. Observation
5.4.4. Interviews
5.4.5. Documents
5.4.6. Analysis
5.5. Survey
5.5.1. The sample
5.5.2. Construction of the questionnaires
5.5.3. The process
5.5.4. The results
5.5.5. Analysis
5.6. Language
5.7. Summary of all used methods
6. Youth For Peace: a background
6.1. Community
6.1.1. Members
6.1.2. Institutional identity
6.2. Aims, activities, and goals
6.3. Structure or division of labour
6.3.1. The organisation
6.3.2. The Board
6.3.3. The staff
6.4. Rules
6.5. Values
6.6. Resources and constraints
6.6.1. Financial resources
6.6.2. Human resources
6.6.3. Infrastructure and technical resources
6.7. Conclusion
7. Actions and Interactions
7.1. Information activities
7.1.1.   Environmental   scanning:   passive   acquisition   and   spreading   of   external information
7.1.2. Seeking information
7.1.3. Storing and retrieving information
7.1.4. Creating information products
7.1.5. Disseminating information to the environment
7.1.6. Sharing information within the organisation
7.2. Subjects
7.3. Objects
7.4. Tools and resources
7.4.1. Face­to­face meetings (organised)
7.4.2. Face­to­face meetings (unorganised)
7.4.3. Telephone
7.4.4. Virtual discussions
7.4.5. At the office
7.4.6. Archives
7.4.7. Documents
7.4.8. Summary
7.5. Aims and goals
7.5.1. Open access and democracy
7.5.2. Learning and continuity
7.5.3. Supporting decision making and other tasks
7.5.4. Proof and control
7.5.5. Visibility
7.5.6. Belonging and motivation
7.5.7. Symbolic aims and goals
7.6. Division of labour
7.6.1. Formal and actual division of labour
7.6.2. Scattered over many individuals
7.6.3. Alone or together
7.6.4. Fuzzy responsibilities
7.6.5. Include local members
7.7. Rules
7.7.1. Externally imposed – or expected
7.7.2. Organisational rules: few and not enforced
7.7.3. Within the Boards: more rules, but still flexible
7.8. Values
7.8.1. Internal democracy, inclusion and equality
7.8.2. Flexibility
7.8.3. Own responsibility
7.8.4. Efficiency
7.8.5. Learning and continuity
7.9. Summary: the outcomes of the activities
7.9.1. Environmental scanning: undirected viewing
7.9.2. Disseminating information to the environment: scattered and ineffective
7.9.3.  Seeking  information:   collective  striving  for   an extensive  information base, individual risk of discontinuity
7.9.4. Storing and retrieving: towards an open archive, but also frustrated ambitions
7.9.5. Creating information products: prioritised, but slow processes and the role of policy documents
7.9.6.  Sharing information within the organisation:  prioritised,  felt lacking,  but on the whole, fairly successful
8. Other youth/peace organisations in Sweden
8.1. Youth/Peace organisations: a background
8.1.1. Community: participants and identities
8.1.2. Aims and activities
8.1.3. Division of labour, or structur
8.1.4. Resources
8.2. Information activities in youth/peace organisations
8.2.1. Seeking information
8.2.2. Storing and retrieving information
8.2.3. Sharing information within the organisations
8.2.4. Information attitudes
8.3. Summary
9. Discussion
9.1. A super­activity system of information management
9.2. Neighbour Activities
9.2.1. Supporting sensemaking
9.2.2. Supporting decision making
9.2.3. Supporting learning and innovation
9.2.4. Summary
9.3. Disturbances and tensions
9.3.1. Them and Us: the paradoxical gap between Board and members
9.3.2. All talk and no action
9.3.3. Building communities: cracks in the cement
9.3.4. Lost in transitio
9.3.5. Too many offers, too little time
9.3.6. A fuzzy state of knowledge
9.3.7. (Policy documents are) Made to be broken
9.3.8. Rich tools for poor organisations
9.3.9. Informality: a threat to democracy?
9.3.10 Summary
9.4. Change
9.4.1. A time to internalise, a time to externalise
9.4.2. Tensions lead to change?
9.4.3. Emergent rather than planned
9.4.4. Summary
9.5. The tragedy of youth/peace organisations: the paradox of empowerment
9.5.1. The identity contradiction cluster
9.6. Or: the power of youth organisations: learning and moving on
9.7. Summary
10. Conclusions
10.1. Questions
10.2. … And Answers
10.3.  Filling the research gap: a holistic perspective on information management and information behaviour
10.3.1. Yet another model
10.4. More knowledge about a new context
10.5. Relevance outside of library and information science
10.6. Questions for further research
Empirical material

Author: Nowé Hedvall, Karen

Source: University of Boras

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