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Information seeking in social context: structural influences and receipt of information benefits

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3 Author(s)
Cross, R. ; Virginia Univ., Charlottesville, VA, USA ; Rice, R.E. ; Parker, A.

Research in the information processing, situated learning and social network traditions has consistently demonstrated the importance of social networks for acquiring information. However, we know little about how organizational relationships established by a relative position in a formal structure or social relationships established by interpersonal processes influence who is sought out for various kinds of information. Prior research suggests that people often receive some combination of five benefits when seeking information from other people: (1) solutions; (2) meta-knowledge (pointers to databases or people); (3) problem reformulation; (4) validation of plans or solutions; and (5) legitimation from contact with a respected person. This research builds on that work by assessing the influence of organizational and social structures (such as similarity of job function, hierarchy, task interdependence, physical proximity, influence, trust, friendship and gender) on receipt of these benefits from other people in a physically distributed organization. Task interdependence is the strongest and most consistent predictor of information seeking. However, social relations also affect the receipt of informational benefits, especially as they become more representational and affective. Implications are suggested for the study of social capital, computer-mediated communication and organizational learning

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Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:31 ,  Issue: 4 )