Information flows in a biotechnology company
This case study of the information flows within a British biotechnology company involved a population of 156 and took place over five years. It included information provision and information management as embedded studies. The main investigation into information flows was done in three parts, using questionnaires. The parts were: Use of Information Centre information resources, company-wide information flows and assessment of the perceived effectiveness of existing information flows. Combined, these three parts represent a 'snapshot' of the flows over a timespan of about three months. The methodology used to present the individual information flows is novel. The results showed that inter-personal communication or information flows were good, with e-mail being extensively used; that most inter-Group flows were functional, but that flows through the company were poor. Information flow out of the company was restricted. The main barriers to effective flows were excessive secrecy which prevented open exchange of information, lack of finance and the split sites. Although these were only a few miles from the main building, the staff felt isolated. The results further show that the most used information resources were colleagues, and that the most used non-human information resources were not held in the IC. The main users of the IC were the R&D staff, while more than 50% of the company rarely or never used the facility. The investigation represents an early example of Knowledge Management and further documents a stage in the evolution of biotechnology companies.