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Information and Behavior, Essay Example

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Essay

Summarize collaborative information behavior (CIB) studies conducted in different disciplines, such as health science, technology, and business. Discuss the differences and similarities among them? What is your opinion of the importance of context in human information behavior research?

In Reddy and Jansen’s (2008) study on collaborative information behavior in the healthcare industry, the authors establish a model of understanding in the context of a clinical setting by evaluating how two healthcare teams use collaborative information to execute medical procedures. Information Processing & Management44(1), 256-273. The authors point out that there is limited understanding in regards to the nature of behavior that culminates from collaborative information and its use within fields, as most models of information behavior study emphasize the behavior of individual information seekers which disregards how this information impacts the collective body of seekers as a whole. This is especially true in regards to medical practitioners.  Reddy and Jansen’s (2008) report on the findings of two empirical studies structured to assess the function off collaborative information behavior in organizational settings, specifically two healthcare teams. The authors find there is a distinct difference between individual information behavior and collaborative when it comes to the role information technology plays in the environment.  The authors note that, “there are specific triggers for transitioning from individual to collaborative information behavior, including lack of domain expertise. The information retrieval technologies used affect collaborative information behavior by acting as important supporting mechanisms” (Reddy and Jansesn, 2008, p.256).  When assessing how collaborative information behavior functions within the two healthcare teams, the authors further find that collaborative information behavior is fueled by an increase in the complexity of information needs. In a similar health industry related study, Bailey et al (2011) uncovers the necessary edition within assisted living arrangements is to establish a collaborative environment where the exchange of information is paramount. The authors note, “the paper concludes that a vital step in developing successful assisted living technologies with and for older adults is to spend resources on building effective, creative and committed multidisciplinary teams and practices”( Bailey, C., Doyle, J., Squires, S., Scanaill, C. N., Fan, C. W., Sheehan, C., Cunningham, C., & Dromey, B., 2011, p.1)

Reddy and Jansesn, (2008), note that they discovered much of the individual information seeking took the form of simple question and answers. For example, a physician might as ‘‘what is the protocol for an apnea test? (Reddy and Jansesn, 2008, p.256)’’ These were the type of simple questions that would easily be answered by another medical practioner. was a simple question that was answered by another physician. The focus of communication in IIB was on questions and answers. In contrast, communication in CIB was richer and focused not only on questions and answers but also on tying together different pieces of information to find the answers. This is highlighted in the following vignette from the SICU.

The results and prior work, we develop a model of collaborative information behavior along the axes of participant behavior, situational elements, and contextual triggers. We also present characteristics of collaborative information system including search, chat, and sharing. We discuss implications for the design of collaborative information retrieval systems and directions for future work.

The relationship information science has with the social world, and the study of this interaction, is referred to as social informatics.  Peter Ingwersen’s (1990) text on, “Information and Information Science in Context”, in collaboration with an article by Rob Kling (1998) “Social Informatics in Information Science: An Introduction,” provide substantial background on the intricacies of social informatics as a discipline. In 1990, ingwersen placed significant emphasis on the fact that, through technological advancements, information systems were becoming more  complimentary to a human approach to Information transfer.  There is also a strong trend in research interest from access-orientation to accessibility and use of stored knowledge overall (Ingwersen, 1990, pg 114).  The author points out that this factor is further enhanced by the fact that information more readily available as there is more interest in the use of transformation of information into knowledge on both the individual and societal levels.  Information is now being made to fit human necessity, in which it is transformed into knowledge for purposeful use.  Ingwersen identifies this as a strategic necessity, especially within the field of business as the acquisition of valued knowledge is empowering (Ingwersen, 1990, pg.115). The author traces this back to the gatekeeper mentality where knowledge is held by a select few in order to retain power.  Ingweresen connects this concept to the use of collaborative information behavior in the field of business, pointing out how businesses attain market share through acquiring valued knowledge and guarding it from their competitors. These guardians of knowledge are often referred to as gatekeepers.

Allen (1977) sheds light on the concept of information gatekeepers, as well as technological gatekeepers, noting that “technological gatekeepers are defined as those key individual technologists who are strongly connected to both internal colleagues and external sources of information” (Allen, 1977, p.7). Gatekeepers hold a rare position in the media as well as they work as barriers between the public and secured information. Allen further notes that, Gatekeepers are those individuals who are in the top fifth of both internal communication and external communication measures” (Allen, 1977, p.7). Social media has drastically changed this concept. Social networking resources like Facebook, twitter, orkut, MySpace, Skype etc., are taking the power of gate-keeping out of the hands of traditional media and putting it into the hands of individuals. used extensively for the purpose of communication. One of the most important advantages of the use of social media is the online sharing of knowledge and information among the different groups of people. This online sharing of information also promotes the increase in the communication skills among the people especially among the learners/students of educational institutions. Online tools and technology has not only mediated communication in countless ways, but that the very ways we communicate and even the ways we talk and think about communication are changing as a result. Social media is fundamentally changing the character of our social lives, both on an interpersonal and a community level. The average use of ” smart phone ” in 2013 amounted to an estimated 150 MB of data per month,. It is now estimated  it is expected that this figure will rise to 2.6 gigabytes by 2016. A recent Sysomos report (2012) revealed that smart phones and their functions are talked about on social media sites, . The rapid growth of the number of ad-hoc and Wi-Fi networks supports the development of information sharing through smart phones. As Cheng and Li (2013, p. 376) write, “smart phone has become one of the indispensable products for people’s life.” The question that arises is how can something with such a great impact on society have minimal research available.

While smart phone application applications developers have been programming applications to enhance the quality and frequency of human interactions, the education and healthcare sector are also getting involved with the use of mobile devices to further research through data sharingd even health care are discovering the benefits of using instant data sharing (Dahlstorm et al. 2013). Competencies of potential instructors are initially assessed during the interview process. This is the first step on the clinical ladder. Following this step performance reviews can be put in place to see if entry level candidates are capable of ascending up the ladder to a higher level or responsibility and ultimately to a senior position. It’s during these reviews that competencies can be tested. For the most part competencies can be accessed through a form of clinical instructor certification test, done by Scranton or digitally. Instructors can also be evaluated through test-offs. It’s a standard practice in most institutions to provide students with an opportunity at the end of the year to provide feedback in evaluating their instructors. This form of testing can also come in handy to test competencies considering that student interaction is a core competency related to clinical instruction. The best way to assure that all staff have completed yearly mandatory education is to require they attain certain certifications compliant with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing as a part of their employment. Another way to do this would be to have them qualify for scheduled test-off evaluations on how instructors would use certain new technology, or walk them through specific protocols related to their field. These should be annual evaluations at the start of the year once the curriculum has been established. This will ensure the staff is conscious of current trends in the industry especially when it comes to technological initiatives. Past studies demonstrate that the urgency of hospital care, specifically that posed by the demands of critical care units. Nursing Informatics need to work closely with nursing managers and staff nurses during the planning and implementation process, it took many years. It is always expected that, there will be some resistance to the new system. However many nurses might be excited about it.

No example of the impact of collaborative information behavior to address information problems better reveals itself than in the procedures executed by the Homeland Security Department as well as inter-agency actions put in place for gathering information, by the FBI, following the 9/11 Terrorist attacks. As Mueller notes, “collection of intelligence is conducted by the FBI’s greatest asset: its people. Since 9/11, the FBI has more than doubled the number of agents and analysts assigned to its national security mission from 3,537 (2,514 agents/1,023 analysts) to 7,933 (4,815 agents/3,118 analysts). The FBI has a network of personnel spread around the globe, with 56 field offices and 399 resident agencies domestically and 62 international legal attaché offices around the world which support the collection of raw intelligence” (Mueller, 2011, p.1). This is a prime example of a circumstance where both the acquisition of collective information across a collaborative groups of agents is just as vital to the success of the organization as is the security of that information.  Discrepancy in communication plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness of national security efforts. This creates a complex relationship between the information and its generator and the relationship between information and its user as cited by Ingwersen (1990) as the fundamental concern of information science. One hand, it could be argued that the easiest way to secure information would be through an individual behavioral information arrangement where the information is utilized by one single individual and an information system. The problem is without a collaborative effort it defeats the intended purpose of that secured information. Without the information being put to and intended use it loses value. The intended use of national security secrets is for the protection of U.S. Citizens and the ultimate identification, apprehension and neutralization of threats. Mueller (2011) further notes that, “one of the first steps was to centralize control and management of counter-terrorism operations at Headquarters to avoid the “stove-piping” of information on terrorism cases in the 56 individual field offices across the country. Another was building the critical intelligence infrastructure to meet the needs of production and dissemination of intelligence products” (Mueller, 2011, p.1).

The 9/11 attacks revealed a significant gap in homeland security, which resulted in a need for public administration initiatives and more knowledge acquisition techniques. The authors note that, “the attacks on 9/11 were another strategic event and mandate for change. The inability of the U.S. intelligence community to “connect the dots” due to inefficient information-sharing mechanisms and the gap in domestic intelligence led to a significant debate about improving the nation’s intelligence apparatus. These attacks also served as the rallying point for reformists to improve the ability to share information. As a result, the 9/11 attacks prompted the largest reorganization of the intelligence community since 1947” (Burch, 2008, p.37). The end result of this gap in information and technology was that high end  security actions had to be implemented to make way for collaborative information behavioral work. It is noted that, “most significant were the creation of several national organizations – the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Director for National Intelligence (DNI), the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) – and the revamping of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) intelligence capability” (Burch, 2008, p.23). This expansion into inter-organizational departments following 9/11, marked a trend in collaborative security utilization unlike anything that had ever been attempted prior. Burch further notes that,  “these changes, coupled with an emphasis on information sharing and the development of state and local fusion centers, have resulted in the significant application of resources and effort to address the domestic intelligence gap” (Burch, 2008, p23).The chart below demonstrates how departments were structured.

State and local fusion centers, represent collaborative information behavior on a grand scale. However, they should not be mistaken as a federal phenomenon or as a national strategy. These centers emerged as a result of state and local initiatives (Burch, 2008).  The author points out that, “the DHS implementation of HSIN offers an excellent case study of the complexities involved in fielding new systems. DHS considers HSIN as the primary means to pass homeland security information”(Burch, 2008, p.23). These groups were composed of over 35 groups of interest. The issue with HSIN’s implementation was already established as a part of other collaborative systems, such as the Exchange System, (JRIES) Regional Information Sharing System (RISS), the Joint Regional Information , Law Enforcement Online (LEO), and the insufficient pre-planning that was involved in incorporating these systems. The planning shortfalls stemmed largely from the time limitations involved in rushing the fielding of the system” (Burch, 2008, p23). This form of collaborative information behavior, where information must be kept secure, while at the same time put to an effective competitive use is also seen utilized within the corporate world, specifically as it relates to the its use of information technology.

In their study on the types of information technology usage and its role in creating competitive advantage in the corporate arena, Bhatt and Grover (2005) point out that over the past two decades, information technology, its use and management, and the impact of that use on establishing competitive advantage has been a major focus of study for businessmen and academics alike. The authors challenge those who claim IT plays a minimal role in creating competitive advantage, but also point to the environment for collaboration through the use of advanced technology information which results in competitive advantage in business increasing exponentially. They credit collaborative information behavior and its interaction with technology information as the key factor in what creates competitive advantage in a firm.  The authors further note that, “by demarcating specific types of capabilities, we can contribute to better understanding of the sources of IT-based competitive advantage. Conceptually, we distinguish here between value, competitive, and dynamic capabilities as three distinct types of capabilities” (Bhatt and Grover, 2005, p.253). The authors isolate these capabilities and evaluate each one periodically based on the informational value they bring to the table. These capabilities being, intensity of organizational learning, IT business experience, quality of the IT infrastructure, and the company’s relationship infrastructure, and present a model that describes relationships between these capabilities and competitive advantage.  In the study the authors note, “we then empirically test the model using data collected via a national mail survey from chief IT executives from 202 manufacturing firms. While the quality of the IT infrastructure is hypothesized as a value capability and expectedly did not have any significant effect on competitive advantage, the quality of IT business expertise and the relationship infrastructure (competitive capabilities) did” (Bhatt and Grover, 2005, p.253). Their results uncover that organizational learning when infused with a collaborative information behavioral environment is substantially more intense. The authors place emphasis on the necessity to delineate these capabilities, specifically relationship infrastructure, as it can facilitate differentiation in the marketplace. They also place an importance on dynamic capabilities like organizational learning, pointing out that it’s an important antecedent to the building of information technology capacity in the workplace.

A fundamental concept that must be understood by anyone studying or engaging in business information management is to know the differences between data, information, and knowledge. One mistake that is often made is for major information technology companies to assume they are in the knowledge management business. This is a misinterpretation of business information, how it works and what it really represents.  Consider a simple model that describes the life cycle of “stuff”, the evolution of data into knowledge. Data just doesn’t exist on its own. At its core, data is an abstraction of the real world, something constructed by humans for humans to measure aspects of the real world, so that it can be recorded and assessed for its strategic or value or to supplement more informed actions in the real world.

Data is formulated through interfaces with the real world devices. This is done through various tools capable of recording a series of data points assess physical phenomenon. There are also business information systems utilized to keep track of economic transactions, such as the exchange of cash for goods or services. This data organized and placed in a secure location to which a select group of individuals have access. These individuals in turn collaborate with one another to formulate strategies based on the data, and it is through these strategies that the corporation as a whole competes within given markets. Businesses also utilize applications which produce artifacts in the form of graphing programs and word processors that in turn transform data into information. An example of this process would be publishing documents of memos, which are distributed throughout the organization. The information is then transformed into knowledge, through a process of structuring, analysis, organization and communication of this information within a context.

Conclusion

The above scenarios represent examples of how collaborative information behavior function as a factor in the healthcare industry, the realm of social informatics and its relationship with technology, and collaborative behavior in the business world. The main difference between all three focuses can be identified in their expected outcomes and intended goals. While it can be argued the goal of the marriage between social informatics and technology is very similar to that of the healthcare industry as both fields want to create an environment of omniscience where all parties share the same information, the healthcare industry utilizes collaborative information to provide quality care. On the other hand, the interaction between social informatics and technology functions more as an open-ended product of globalization, both furthering its cause while simultaneously functioning as the source. This similarities are contrasted by the way behavioral information functions within the business environment as the main objective collaborative information management and utilization within business is to acquire and share information among a select few while denying competitors and the public access to the same information. While it could be argued collaborative

The main factor all three fields of focus have in common in their use of collaborative behavioral information is that the need for collaborative information behavior is enhanced by complexity of problems. This is a significant finding for human information behavior because it brings research closer to the defining intersection that occurs between collaborative information behavior and individual information behavior. These findings are important in the context of human information research because it sheds light on the actual point when the pivotal moment occurs when an individual functions and performs more effectively as a part of larger unit.

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