Information quality frames: an information product perspective and a socio-cognitive approach to perceiving quality of information in organisations
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There has been much advancement in the field of data and information quality (DIQ) since two decades ago. However, despite a large number of the theoretical and empirical studies in this field, there is a lack of understanding about the mechanisms and dynamics of forming, adjusting and changing organisational users’ (information consumers) assumptions and expectations based on which they perceive the quality of information required for making decision in order to perform a task within an organisational environment. Although it is already known that information consumers perceive the quality of information according to the requirements of the organisational task and the context of use, how the task requirements affect information consumers’ expectations of information quality has been a black-box in the body of literature. The main objective of this research is to contribute to the literature of DIQ by exploring the role of the setting of a task within an organisational context in the formation, development and change of information consumers’ underlying expectations of information quality. Information consumers’ assumptions and expectations are called information quality (IQ) frames by this research. Moreover, this research examines the role of IT artefacts, which are used to support performing the task, in these dynamics. As an organisational task is usually performed by a group, the role of the task group of which information consumers are members is investigated by this research. Having adopted a multi-case study design, this thesis has targeted seven different task groups in seven different organisations from multiple industries. This in-depth qualitative research also employs interviews as the main source of data and documents as the secondary source of data. The collected data and empirical evidence is analysed using the thematic analysis and pattern coding. This study’s theoretical contributions to the body of literature are as follows. Firstly, the findings indicate that information consumers should not be simply categorised into domain-specific experts or novices for understanding the mechanisms that affect their IQ frames. Regarding the domain of the task, an information consumer might have domain-related experience that differentiates him from both an expert and a novice. Moreover, this study found that the organisational-specific experience plays a significant role in these dynamics. Secondly, four different settings of a task within an organisational context have been recognised and the insights have been provided into the likely impact of each setting on IQ frames. The findings show that the setting of a task that affects IQ frames is enforced by the interplay between the degree of situatedness of the task and the degree of its explicitness. Thirdly, this research contends that the role of other members of a task group contributes directly to the setting of a task rather than directly influencing their colleague’s IQ frames. Fourthly, this thesis confirms that the organisational resource limitations and the time pressure, which were already mentioned in the literature, affect how information consumers perceive the quality of information but the empirical evidence reveals that other types of pressure such as the pressure of a competitive market has a similar role, therefore, it is argued that in general the organisational pressure impacts the way information consumers perceive information quality. However, this thesis argues that this influence is mediated by the setting of a task. In other words, the organisational pressure can increase the degree of situatedness of a task within an organisational context. Finally, the findings of this study indicate that information consumers’ interpretation of how an IT artefact enables a task within an organisational context is the key mechanism through which the IT artefact can participate in forming, adjusting or changing their IQ frames. The interpreted type of an IT artefact, its interpreted capabilities, the organisational intervention and the IT support by IT technicians of an organisations are the main four factors that govern the influence of the IT artefact on information consumers’ IQ frames. In addition, the computing environment in which the IT artefact operates in, information consumers’ level of IT knowledge and prior experience of using the IT artefact can be involved indirectly in these dynamics. The theoretical contributions of this research have led to the development of a framework for IQ frames and the underlying dynamics have been explained in detail. In addition to the theoretical contributions, this study has a number of practical implications for organisations and management regarding the importance of the organisational settings in how information quality is judged by organisational users (information consumers).
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