Information Management in Project Management: Theoretical Guidelines for Practical Implementation

Information Management in Project Management: Theoretical Guidelines for Practical Implementation

Fernanda Ribeiro (Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto, Portugal) and Armando Malheiro da Silva (Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9993-7.ch002
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The authors start by presenting a disciplinary positioning regarding the information science (IS) that is being developed, investigated, and taught at the University of Porto, Portugal and rigorously spelling out the cross-cutting approach to information management (IM), which is also shared with other social sciences and technology-oriented disciplines. From this point, it is presented a short overview and a literature review about the nature of project management (PM) to emphasize the need for an effective and fully assumed approach between IM and PM. It is observed that for PM specialists, info-communicational flows are important, and they seek to manage them intuitively, but without feeling compelled to draw on the know-how of the IS and IM specialists. However, the opposite is true, that is, there are in course some interesting adaptations of PM procedures, applied to informational projects, as it is shown in the last part of this chapter.
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From Information Science To Information Management: Disciplinary Positioning

The practical epistemology, has been so designated by Jayme Paviani to mean the articulation of epistemological and methodological problems within a common horizon and, in this sense, its function would be “to make explicit the assumptions and purpose of science in an articulated manner with the rules, the procedures and the research tools. Therefore, its contribution, as well as reflective, is programmatic” (Paviani, 2009:21), and has been behind the effort at the University of Porto, Portugal, of the precise and synthetic delimitation (joining theoretical concerns with the practical dimension of research) of the Information Science (IS) field. Hence, the proposed definition for it: “social science that investigates the problems, issues and cases related to info-communicational phenomenon, perceivable and knowable through confirmation or denial of the inherent properties of the informational flow genesis, organisation and behaviour” (Silva, 2006:141). It is also the science that, keeping alive the documentary tradition and practice inherited from previous disciplines such as librarianship, documentation and archivistics, studies the information cycle in its fullness and transversality: origin, collection, organisation, storage, retrieval, interpretation, transmission, processing and use of information.

Moreover, the question to ask is: How is the “information” defined? This is being defined in various ways and views. In the midst of such a variety of settings, we chose to take a definition that would allow to explore the fixed object: “Set of structured mental and emotional coded representations (signs and symbols) and modelled with/by social interaction, able to be recorded in any material medium and therefore communicated in an asynchronous and multi-directed way” (Silva, 2006:150).

To be communicated, information takes the form of a document, but it does not become identical to it; though our senses (visual and tactile) allow us to perceive the document as an artifact and inseparable (and symbiotic) from the mentefact (information). Perceiving the subtle but crucial difference between the content and the container, between the medium and the “substance of meaning” recorded in it, gives IS epistemic legitimacy.

The 60s pontificated the famous definition of IS exposed in the Georgia Institute of Technology conferences that took place in October 1961 and April 1962, and summarised in an article by Harold Borko (1968), in which the reference to the information properties emerged, listed firstly by Yves-François Le Coadic (1994). In the definition exposed and used in the University of Porto, they appear and mainly are specified in the book prepared to provide the theoretical and well-founded basis for the Bachelor in Information Science that began to be taught in the academic year 2001-2002 (Silva; Ribeiro, 2002). The properties of information, formalised as general axioms, are six and according to them, information: 1) is structured by an action (human and social) – the individual or societal act structurally establishes and models the information; 2) is integrated dynamically – the informational act is involved with, and results from, conditions and circumstances both internal and external to that action; 3) has potentiality – a statement (to a greater or lesser extent) of the act which founded and modelled the information is possible; 4) is quantifiable – the linguistic, numeric or graphic codification is capable of quantification; 5) is reproducible – the information can be reproduced without limit, therefore, its subsequent recording/memorising is made possible; 6) is transmissible – the informational (re)production is potentially transmissible or communicable. In addition, the properties are, somehow, intrinsic and “universal” characteristics of the info-communicational phenomenon. It is, moreover, in relation to this human and social phenomenon that the IS object (defined above) is (re)built.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Management: Cross activity based on the theoretical and methodological foundations of Information Science with a connection with other scientific disciplines, namely, the management and the sociology of organizations, which clearly lies in a dimension of practical and applied solutions and interventions.

Organization and Representation of Information: One of the areas of information science devoted to research on technical and life cycle issues of information, from production to storage, focused on meta-information, controlled languages, information flow analysis and representation, access and search tools, classification, conceptual maps, information architectures and visualization.

Informational Behaviour: One of the areas of Information Science devoted to research on Informational needs and user’s attitudes in technologically mediated contexts, adopting an interdisciplinary point of view that crosses information science, computer science, cognitive science and design.

Information Science: It is a social (applied) science that investigates the problems, issues and cases related info-communicational phenomenon perceptible and knowable through the confirmation, or not, of the properties inherent to the genesis, the flow, the organization and informational behaviour.

Production of Information Flow: One of the areas of information science devoted to theoretical and practical research on logical and informational practices, governed by systemic theory and applied in management practice requiring that digital platforms, namely those used in organisations be associated to all the other media that support information, including the oral one (interpersonal communication and inside companies).

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