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Ethnographic sensitivity and current recordkeeping: Applying information culture analysis in the workplace

Gillian Oliver (Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics, Monash University, Caulfield East, Australia)
Fiorella Foscarini (Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Craigie Sinclair (Department of Information and Records Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Catherine Nicholls (eSolutions, Monash University, Clayton, Australia)
Lydia Loriente (eSolutions, Monash University, Clayton, Australia)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 31 July 2018

Issue publication date: 6 August 2018

1605

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on the application of information culture analysis techniques in the workplace. The paper suggests that records managers should use ethnographic sensitivity, if they want to have a constructive dialogue with records creators and users, and effect positive change in their organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

Two pilot studies were conducted in university settings for the purpose of testing an information culture assessment toolkit. The university records managers who carried out the investigation approached the fieldwork ethnographically, in the sense that they were interested in the perspectives of their end users, and tried to understand their information cultures, rather than imposing their recordkeeping concepts and procedures.

Findings

Information culture analysis was of practical utility in large complex organisations, providing an insight into behaviours, motivations, and most importantly promoted reflection and dialogue among organisational actors.

Originality/value

The paper raises awareness of the diversity of professional skills and knowledge required by records practitioners. It emphasises that to remain relevant to their organisations, records managers have to be receptive and sensitive to cultural influences.

Keywords

Citation

Oliver, G., Foscarini, F., Sinclair, C., Nicholls, C. and Loriente, L. (2018), "Ethnographic sensitivity and current recordkeeping: Applying information culture analysis in the workplace", Records Management Journal, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 175-186. https://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-08-2017-0021

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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