UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Function-based records classification systems : an exploratory study of records management practices in central banks Foscarini, Fiorella


Records management and archival theory recommends that records classification, as a means to identify and organize the records made or received in the course of business, should be based on an analysis of the records creators’ functions and activities and reflect them. However, the purpose of classification, the meaning of the term function, and the methodology for conducting a business analysis are not clearly explained in the relevant literature. Additionally, no studies of actual applications of the functional approach to records classification in real organizational settings exist. This dissertation addresses the question of how the concept of function and the functional approach to records classification are understood by those who are responsible for the development and implementation of records classification systems as well as by the users of such systems. In order to contribute insights that can enrich the theory and methodology of records classification, an empirical, interpretivist research design, based on an initial survey of potential study subjects and a multiple-case study research, was conducted in four selected central banks in Europe and North America. One of the selection criteria was that the organizational cultures of the case study sites had to be as heterogeneous as possible. Findings showed that the meanings of function, functional approach, and even classification are subject to various interpretations, that classification developers find functional methodologies confusing, and that users do not usually appreciate the outcomes of their efforts. Furthermore, because the approach to classification was not always consistent with the nature of the records, some of the classification systems examined did not adequately serve either records management or business-related purposes. The research also provided an explanation of the relationship between organizational culture and the understanding of both records management and business processes.

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