The value of information in organisations : a study of information use situations as contexts of value
The notion that the value of information is significantly dependent on the context of use is widely accepted in information systems research. Context is however often conceived as given and exogenous to the use activity and hence beyond the control of the user. This study takes a dynamic and holistic view of context in which the purposes, processes and effects of information use are seen as inextricable from the structural and environmental factors that mediate such use in organisations. The concept of Information Use Situation (lUS) is employed to represent this view of context. An lUS framework is developed and used as a guide to explore, describe, and interpret a number of information use situations in four organisations in the service sector. The study draws on several context studies in information systems, work motivation and self-interest theories in social psychology, and a number of philosophical propositions on the nature of information and value, in highlighting the key features of the situations studied. The findings suggest that, in general, information use situations affect the value-in-use of information in at least three ways, by acting as filters, as mediators of use behaviour and as frames of reference for evaluating informational activities. The main contribution of this thesis to information systems research is in proposing and exploring the concept of information use situation as a more holistic view of context when studying the value of information in organisation. The thesis concludes that organisations need to recognise the diversity of information use situations they feature and to appreciate that the value of information depends significantly on the nature of the situation in which it is used. This requires managers to pay as much attention to the processes by which employees experience and appropriate information as to the quality of the formal information used if they are to realise the optimum value of their information resources.