Information overload and information poverty: challenges for healthcare services managers?

Jackie MacDonald (Library and Knowledge Management Services, Shared Services, Dalhousie School of Nursing – Yarmouth Site, Annapolis Valley Health, South Shore Health, South West Health, Bridgewater, Canada and Centre for Health Information Management Research, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Peter Bath (Centre for Health Information Management Research, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Andrew Booth (School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 8 March 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into managers' decision‐making practices when challenged by inappropriate information quality, and to test frameworks developed from research to see whether they apply to these managers.

Design/methodology/approach

This exploratory, multiple case study used the critical incident technique in 19 semi‐structured interviews. Responses were analyzed using framework analysis, a matrix‐based content analysis technique, and then considered with respect to the research literature on information overload, information poverty and satisficing.

Findings

The managers in this study tended to satisfice (terminate the search process and make a good enough decision, while recognizing that information gaps remain). Those challenged by too little information appear to fit descriptions of information poverty, while others described aspects of information overload.

Research limitations/implications

A shortage of information behavior research on managers makes it difficult to conclude whether these results are typical of managers in general or of healthcare services managers specifically. Further research is needed to confirm initial findings and address questions suggested by this paper.

Practical implications

This paper suggests that existing definitions for the concepts of information poverty and information overload can be used to describe managers' experiences.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to what is known about information behavior in managers in general and healthcare services managers specifically. It may serve as an example of how to consider new research findings within existing frameworks.

Keywords

Citation

MacDonald, J., Bath, P. and Booth, A. (2011), "Information overload and information poverty: challenges for healthcare services managers?", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 67 No. 2, pp. 238-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220411111109458

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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