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Organizations nowadays are continuously looking for solutions to effectively seek and handle information within their internal and external environments. As Carr (2003) points out roles such as Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Knowledge Officers (CKOs) and business managers in organizations are increasingly common as to suggest organization's focus in managing information.
Information Management is a discipline which handles information resources within an organization. It is concerned with how information is acquired, recorded and stored in an organization (Choo, 1995). Information management evaluates the information an organization requires to achieve its objectives (Orna,1999). It involves organizing and distributing of information to people as when needed throughout the organization (Robbins,2003). The basic goal of information management is to harness information resources and information capabilities of the organization in order to enable the organization to learn and adapt to its changing environment ( Choo,1995).
Today, information management has been widely practised in organisations. The practise however may differ from one organization to another as there are many broad factors that can possibly influence how information is managed in an organization (C.W. Holsapplea, K.D. Joshi). This essay aims to highlight the impact of organizational structure and culture has on information management in organization. In this essay, the role of information and how it is used in various organisational and cultural settings are also discussed.
Many analysts have studied the relationship between information management and organizational structure and how the latter could affect the manner information management is been carried out in the organization (Galbraith, 1973; Thompson, 1967; Olson & Chervany 1980). Organizational structure is defined as the way an organization's activities are divided, organised, and coordinated. (James et al 2000). It is a setting where decision, responsibilities and power takes place in an organization and shows how information flows between the levels of management (Hall 1997; Peymant et al 2001). Contingency theory states there is no single organizational structure that is highly effective for all organizations. Each organization may have different types of structures depending on its objectives and strategies. Organization changes its structure to align it with its strategies (Ramienski, 2008).
This essay will focus on centralization and decentralization, the two main structural variables referred to the characteristic of organization (Damanpour,1991). Centralization is the process by which activities of an organization, is concentrated at the top (Beck ) The decision making are made at the top levels without the involvement from the bottom members of the organization. The centralized structure is usually favoured when industry faces some complex but static problem (Banabeau et. Al.,1999). When operates in a stable environment, organization can benefit from centralization as it results to efficiency as well as cost savings. However, organizations that put too much emphasis on centralization can dampen its employees' drive for improvement and responsibility taking (Schmidt, 1993). Atuahene-Gima, 2003; Damanpour, 1991 mirrored this notion by commenting centralization decreases the possibilities for other organizational members to explore new ideas. The view is supported by Hage (1980) as he claims centralization inhibits communication in the organization. When the degree of centralization is high, information in the organization is narrowed (Cardinal, 2001).
In contrast to centralization, decentralization encourages the dispersion of information and decision making in an organization (Hage, 1980). Allen ( ) defines decentralization as a systematic delegation to the lowest level of authority. Decentralization promotes bottom to top flow of information in which empowers employees to use their first-hand knowledge and experience to make a more efficient decision for the organization (Jensen & Meckling, 1992; Galbraith, 1973). In addition, decentralization can lead to faster and more responsive decision as it provides greater flexibility in dealing with problems in organization (Schmidt, 1993).
Studies have identified the organizational culture's role in determine the effectiveness of information management in an organization. Even though unseen and intangible, culture plays an important function in an organization. It influences on how organization defines the information it possess as useful, valid and important (Lee & Choi ,2003). Martins and Martins (2003: 380) define organisational culture as "a system of shared meaning held by members, distinguishing the organisation from other organisations". Cultural factors in organizations determine who is to receive what kind of information and as to whether the information can be shared with others and so on (De Long, 1997).
Information culture on the other hand reflected in the organization's values, norms, and practices with regard to the management and use of information (Choo; Parquette; Furness; Van de Berg, 2005). When the culture emphasizes on solidarity, mutual interest and shared goals, members of organization tend to share information with one another (Javenpaa & Staples, 2001). Zhang et al., (2005) posited that when the value of information is embedded in the organization's culture any efforts made by organization would not clash with its cultures.
Many scholars and practitioners (e.g. Lopez et al., 2004; Kulkarni, Ravindran & Freeze, 2007), believe that an organizational culture that is supportive and or adaptive can enable the successful implementation of knowledge management technologies as well as practices.
Generally an organization uses information in three distinct arenas; to make sense of its environment, to create new knowledge and to make decisions (Choo, 1998For organisation which has an information-oriented culture, most of decision will be based in the information that they have. For example top management of organisation will utilise the information they have for setting their organisational goal and future strategies. The employee in organisation will equip with information and use the information on day to day operation and make the decision faster and more accurate with information that they have. The employee are ready to challenge the status quo and innovates new way of doing things. Choo(1995) mention that the outcome of information use is a change in the individual's state of knowledge or capacity to act.
The interrelationship between organizational structure and information management has been long intertwined (Joseph. F ).