The information and knowledge resources used by managers to inform their decision making
The aims of this study are to develop, justify and test a conceptual framework related to information and knowledge use by managers. This is currently a critical management area partly due to the extent of external change which has reduced the ability to rely on experience but also because of the increasing interest in evidence informed management which includes an emphasis on the effective use of information and knowledge resources. The literature review integrates the information and knowledge use literature from librarianship/information science and management with that of information and knowledge production and evidence informed management into one conceptual framework. The fieldwork has involved an exploratory testing of the elements of this conceptual framework by investigating: (a) what is the context of information and knowledge need including what situations provoke the explicit use of information and knowledge resources and what resources have been produced relating to these decision areas; (b) what are the intervening variables that affect information and knowledge seeking and use; (c) what are the information and knowledge seeking behaviours of managers; and (d) how is information and knowledge processed and used in the context of adoption of an evidence informed management approach. The research methodology consists of semi structured interviews with 28 managers from 3 National Health Service (NHS) trusts designed to test the conceptual framework but also enable participants identify other relevant issues. In addition to identifying general management issues related to use of information and knowledge resources, the study investigates use in relation to two contemporary strategic decision making areas: education and training and performance management. This study makes a particular contribution by identifying those decision making areas tending to lead to use of information and knowledge resources in a health context. It finds the most extensive use is of practice related resources and adds to the limited research on information literacy in a management situation. In addition, the study adds to the relatively few empirical studies associated with evidence informed management. It confirms evidence informed management as the appropriate label and determines the breadth of information and knowledge resources is relevant to this approach. Finally, the study makes recommendations to enhance NHS management practice in a number of areas. These include strengthening academic research; strengthening availability of practice related information and knowledge; developing skills and/or support for managers related to information and knowledge use; developing the production of systematic reviews; and improving organisational arrangements associated with information and knowledge resources. Also included is a dissemination strategy and identification of areas for future research.