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A theory of the use of information for environmental planning : the case of Botswana

Includes bibliographical references. / This study is about the use of information by people work roles. Although the use of information is a key issue in information systems theory and practice, it has received little attention from information systems researchers. Information systems research has been biased towards technology and its use. Our understanding of the use of information by people in work roles to guide the development of information svstems and information management is limited. The present study addresses this imbalance investigating the use of information by planners when they grapple with environmental issues in the development process. The study takes a behavioural perspective to develop a Grounded Theory of the use of information for environmental planning. The research emphasises the use of a qualitative research to understand the use information in relation to tasks and activities the planners perform in projects. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the workplace environment to collect data on the respondents have used information in projects that they had done before. Forty-four subjects were selected from five councils in Botswana. The evidence was corroborated by interviewing ten people outside council who were identified with help of the respondents in the councils. The data was analysed through a coding process in accordance the Grounded Theory techniques. The coding took place in multiple iterations, experts confirmed the results, and the respondents validated theory. The study demonstrates that the use of information by people in work roles can be explored empirically from a behavioural perspective using a qualitative approach – in particular, Grounded Theory. The study identified the processes, contexts, and behaviours relating to the use information. The main finding is the Grounded Theory of the use information for environmental planning. The theory has seven main categories - dynamic project information context, motivators, experiential knowledge, informational power, strategy for participation and pattern of information use. The pattern of information use is the core category. The dynamic project information context, motivators, experiential knowledge and role context influence the pattern of information use in a variety of ways. The pattern of information use generates the informational power base of the planners. The interpretation of the theory shows that the planners exercise their informational power through the strategy for participation in which they facilitate the environmental planning process for the production of environmental plans. The study shows that power relations endemic in environmental planning are essential determinants of the kind of information behaviour that planners exhibit. The findings provide a new way of thinking about developing information systems and information management for planners. It is suggested that when developing information systems for planners the developers should focus on systems functions that facilitate and enhance information behaviours that are induced by the power relations experienced by the planners.
Date January 2006
CreatorsMutshewa, Athulang
ContributorsRoode, J D
PublisherUniversity of Cape Town, Faculty of Commerce, Department of Information Systems
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeDoctoral Thesis, Doctoral, PhD

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