Title

The identification, development and application of information culture in the Western Australian public sector

Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Donald McDermid

Abstract

Information can be found in government departments in many forms. It exists, for example, as performance indicators, statistics, economic analysis, policy advice, political know-how or opinions. Using information is a daily and oft repeated activity in government departments. Information is central to the achievement of outcomes and the delivery of services. It is critical to the government’s success in the information economy. It is central to the development of products and services. It supports policy making and it underpins accountability. Government departments are built on the generation and use of information that is relevant to the largest of all customer groups, the citizens. Even though information is all-pervasive in government departments, how government departments relate to information, what value they ascribe to it, and how their attitudes about information influence their behaviours towards information, is not well understood.

The focus of this study was the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours which government departments in the Western Australian Public Sector exhibited towards information. That is, it investigated information culture. While there has been considerable research in the area of organisational culture, there is limited evidence of the study of information culture, particularly in the public sector. The abstract nature of information culture and the limited research mean that the concept is not widely acknowledged or appreciated. What constitutes information culture, its influence on an organisation, and the potential benefit of a high performing information culture are unresolved issues in the study of information culture.

In the context of the Western Australian Public Sector, this study revealed information culture as complex, systemic and reflexive. Intricate and influential relationships with organisational culture, information management and information use were identified. The key findings of this study led to the development of a model for information culture in the public sector, and a definition which reflects the systemic, complex and multidimensional nature of information culture.

This was a qualitative study within an interpretivist paradigm. Case study method was employed with the Western Australian Public Sector, in particular those departments which delivered services directly to the citizens, being the single case. The key participants were drawn from the public sector and academe. Interviews with best practice organisations and those who had undertaken research previously into information culture added to the richness of the data collection.

LCSH Subject Headings

Public administration -Western Australia - Information resources management

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