Infoculture

Infoculture

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5986-5.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter examines the stable beliefs, behaviors, and artifacts that revolve around organizational informing agents—culture of informing (infoculture). By putting on the lenses of infoculture, one can get a deeper insight into some well-known artifacts of organizational culture. While electronic digital information technologies (IT) play key roles in infocultures in the IT industry and e-commerce enterprises, any organization indeed exhibits beliefs and behaviors that refer to methods of manipulating data, managing knowledge, and to the technical means deployed to these ends. The argument deconstructs the literature on organizational culture to expose such infocultural aspects. The chapter defines components of infoculture and illustrates them with examples. Contributions to the cultural perspective are in emphasizing the behavioral component as well as in focusing on IT in their physical manifestations. It is furthermore argued that different infocultures can exist in the same company, based on the occupational group, profession, department, and other grounds. More often than not, IS departments and professionals nurture different beliefs and practices involving IT than do business departments. The second part of the chapter is devoted to categorizing infocultures. Combining relevant literatures with new insights yields in a six member taxonomy: the role/bureaucracy, matrix, clan/power, family, fiefdom/person, team, and knowledge infoculture. The last two categories advance the cultural approach to organization. Case evidence on infocultures in three case companies is used to illustrate these categories. The chapter also supplies a method of categorizing infocultures grounded on the idea of metaphor and an inquiry driven by the questions of who, what, when, why, and how.
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The Concept Of Infoculture

Law firms and banks maintain strong norms aiming at securing confidentiality of client data, and corresponding work practices are carried out. Innovativeness and production of new knowledge are raised at a level of cult at organizations like 3M and Microsoft. The Internet, as a rich technological and informing context, features in stories explaining the advent of organizations such as Amazon.com and MediPlan (an international Internet pharmacy in Canada). Clerical work in government, education, and non-profit organizations maintain norms and work practices that help to maintain paper documents in a usable form. In high-tech companies, the same efforts can be identified albeit as involving documents in electronic form. Monitoring employees' emails has been legitimized as a practice in many companies. There are attempts to electronically monitor the work of subordinates, and such a cultural shift may need to go through several hurdles before becoming a norm and routine practice.

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