Information Cultures, Roles, and Responsibilities

Information Cultures, Roles, and Responsibilities

Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8410-0.ch014

Abstract

This chapter defines organization culture and identifies the basic elements of any organizational culture. Information culture is a topic that does not generally receive much attention. In this chapter, information culture is described and supplemented with examples of information values, assumptions, and artifacts. The chapter also explains how to go about assessing the state of information culture, as well as ideas on how to strengthen information culture roles and responsibilities.
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Organizational Cultures

At this point you should be ready to strategically manage your information assets. You have brainstormed a vision of your future business environment, developed long term strategies for ten, five and three years forward, have a good understanding of your current situation, a good governance strategy and a good understanding of key decisions. You need buy in for your vision and strategies across the organization. There is an old business adage, though, that reminds us of one more challenge –culture eats strategy for breakfast every time. While it may be difficult to identify the true source of the quotation, Schein (Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2005) reminds us that culture will always constrain strategy. Culture is difficult to change. While we cannot change the organizational culture, we may be able to shape and leverage its information culture to support our strategy.

The information culture is a part of the overall organization culture. This is a focus point for learning and development. There is little reliable research on information cultures, and there is no guidance on how to manage those cultures that exist. It is important to understand this larger business culture. We need to understand how the organizational culture supports or constrains our information management strategy.

Experts in the field of cultural assessment tell us that every organization has multiple cultures (Choo, 2013; Choo Bergeron Detlor and Heaton, 2008; Oliver, 2008). Cultures exist and may vary by level – organization, unit, and individual. Experts tell us that unit level cultures are often the most influential and dominant in defining the organization’s culture. They also tell us what factors shape culture and how to assess and characterize existing cultures. What experts do not tell us is what to do with what we know. This chapter considers how to use what we do know to craft an information culture that supports an information management strategy.

What Is Culture?

Organizational culture includes an organizations assumptions and beliefs, basic values, behaviors, and artifacts (Schein, 1984; Schein, 1990). Culture is manifested in rituals and routines, stories and myths, symbols, power structures, organizational structures, and control systems. Culture is viewed as a shared mental model which influences how individuals interpret behaviors and they behave, often without their being aware of the underlying assumptions. Schein tells us that an organization’s culture is comprised of three things, including: (1) assumptions and beliefs; (2) values and norms; and (3) artifacts (Figure 1). Think of assumptions and beliefs as the fundamental things an organization believes in – it’s essential guiding principles. Think of values and norms as act and behave in order to live up to those beliefs and principles. Think of artifacts as the things – whether implicit or explicit – that remind and reinforce those beliefs and behaviors.

Figure 1.

Elements and levels of organizational culture

Assumptions and Beliefs

Basic assumptions are at the core of culture and represent the belief systems that individuals have toward human behavior, relationships, reality, and truth. They describe how people perceive situations and make sense of events, activities, and human relationships. Assumptions and beliefs are formed over time as people develop strategies to cope with problems and pass along the strategies to new members. Beliefs lead to attitudes which in turn lead to intentions and to behaviors. Another element of assumptions and beliefs that are relevant to information is trust - trusting beliefs and trusting intentions. The process of progressing from beliefs to behaviors has been found to be highly amenable to the formation of trust.

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