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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Managerial access to information Newman, Michael


The purpose of this study was to examine managerial access to information within organizations and its relationship to certain organizational variables. The study had three objectives: 1. to develop and use a simple framework within which the literature on access to information could be integrated; 2. to test specific hypotheses which link important organizational variables with access to information; 3. to suggest prescriptions, based on the findings, for improving managerial access to information which can be used by organizational and information system designers. A framework was developed to describe how access to information in organizations is controlled directly, by imposing rules, and indirectly, by erecting barriers to the retrieval and use of information by organizational members. Data on the regulation of access, organizational variables, and managers' characteristics were collected by means of a structured questionnaire from 170 middle managers in British Columbian organizations. In addition, fifty-three interviews with middle managers were conducted in the Vancouver area. Fourteen hypotheses linking access to organizational variables were derived on the basis of the framework. Additionally, other relationships concerning the direct and indirect regulation of access were proposed. The study showed that access to work-related information is regulated in organizations largely indirectly whereas access to personnel information is often governed by elaborate rules. Additionally, the perceptions of access were found to be inversely related to the inconveniences of retrieving information but was almost independent of the problems of using information. Several of the relationships hypothesized between the organizational variables and access to information were supported. Access was somewhat poorer in larger organizations, as hypothesized. Contrary to expectations, however, access was found to be significantly better in organizations with more levels of authority. In organizations where an attitude of trust and openness is prevalent, significantly better access to information was found. This was also found to be the case in organizations where sharing information is an accepted "norm". The use of computer technology was associated with greater barriers of access to information managers do not need for their jobs. The findings were used to suggest prescriptions for improving managerial access to information. For example, it was suggested that as access is governed more by retrieval problems than by problems in using information, the systems designer should concentrate on minimizing the inconveniences of retrieving information. It was further suggested that because of the greater problems of access associated with size, managerial access could be improved in larger organizations by providing more effective facilities to promote access to information. The study concluded with a discussion of the research methodology, pointing out its advantages and limitations, and with suggestions for further research into managerial access to information.

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