A framework for information architecture for business networks
The concept of Information Architecture (IA) has been independently explored by researchers and practitioners in Information Engineering, Information Systems (ISmanagement, information visualisation and Web site design. However, little has been achieved towards its standardisation within and across these subject domains. To bridge the existing subject divide this study conducts a systematic analysis of publications on frameworks for Information Architecture developed in the field of IS planning and Information Engineering and elicits both common and desirable IA dimensions. It concludes that regardless of their originating subject field, existing IA frameworks are internally focused and have limited effectiveness for dynamic e-business alliances. To address this deficiency, related subject domains such as Systems Theory and Systems Modelling, Web design and virtual team working are explored and ideas are generated for further architectural components such as events, standards, aggregation level and trust that are not supported by existing IAs, but are of high importance for e-business. These are synthesized with the most prevalent IA dimensions identified earlier into a conceptual framework for IA for electronically mediated business networks, called FEBus ffra. network for Information Architecture for Electronically mediated Business networks. The structural viability and usability of the proposed analytical vehicle are evaluated over the period 2001-2003 using a triangulation of a Delphi study, an electronic survey, and evaluation interviews. The participants, representing three self-selecting samples of experienced UK academics and practitioners interested in IA, confirmed the need for an IA framework for e-business alliances and proposed and proved the scope, merits and limitations of the tool. Their views formed the basis for some amendments to the framework and for recommendations for future research. This thesis presents an original contribution to IA knowledge through the comprehensive critical analysis of frameworks on IA and the development of a set of fundamental requirements for IA for e-business environments. Its importance is also seen in the synthesis of the research on 1A conducted in different subject areas. The architectural tool built as an extension of the reviewed IA works constitutes another original aspect of this research. Finally, the novel multi-method evaluation approach employed in the study and the critical examination of its operability, present an advancement of existing knowledge on methodological diversity in IS research.