Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?: A study on communication and information quality in interorganisational project processes
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The background and framework for this thesis are based on organisational challenges due to digitalisation of information and communication experienced by organisations constituting the value chain of Norwegian offshore development and construction projects. In spite of their considerable investments in information technology and organisational measures undertaken to improve their performance, they still experience challenges with releasing pent-up potential and combating new challenges as a consequence of the new information technology. These projects are normally large and complex, involving a large number of organisational entities, a large number of interorganisational interfaces, and have to handle a large amount of information in a short time span. This backcloth inspired this thesis to take a few steps back, away from the challenges expressed by the organisations, and to take a closer look at one of the fundamental elements in all organisational activities, namely information and how it is created. Information and communication of this information are recognised as two of the most fundamental and crucial elements in all organisations, which most organisational processes and activities depend upon. The cornerstone of this thesis is the assumption that organisations and information systems depend upon high quality information products, and that this dependency will influence collaborative performance and collective competitiveness. As a result, the main purpose of this thesis is to take a closer look at how information is produced in the first place and how organisations ensure that each information product has the highest possible quality. The problem addressed by this thesis turned out to take two different, but closely related paths, as the problem had both a scientific and a practical facet. As a result, it was decided to present the overview of the thesis and its main findings in two summaries, a scientific summary and an executive summary. The main reason for doing so is to present the research and the findings in a comprehensible manner for the two different target groups of this thesis. This summary will present the perspectives of this thesis with scientific relevance. The scientific ambitions of this thesis were to describe the processes involved in information production and to establish a better understanding of how these processes influence information quality. The main reason for doing so was that the initial investigation revealed that this topic has had little or no attention in published knowledge within management theory, and that information quality actually unconsciously seems to be taken for granted. This research has been based on case studies of four Norwegian offshore development and construction projects, of which one project was used for an in-depth study. The research has been exploratory and descriptive in nature, and both qualitative and quantitative methods have been combined in a case study approach to collect and analyse data. It has not been the principal intentions for this thesis to provide results with generic or external validity, but rather to gain better insight into a phenomenon observed in a small and demarcated sample that could later prove to be of generic interest. The main scientific contribution of this thesis has been to enlighten the importance of information quality and information production in view of interorganisational collaboration in general, and in view of performance of complex value chains in specific. It is the intention of this thesis to inspire other scientists within management theory and organisational studies to develop more knowledge on the topics of information production and information quality in the future. In addition, other important scientific contributions of this thesis should be mentioned. This thesis has:Confirmed that published knowledge within management theory has little or no focus on information production and information quality.Developed a methodical framework to be used to analyse communicative situations in complex projects.Improved the understanding of how organisational interaction is carried out in practice through individual employees.Established and described the fundamental elements in an information production perspective. Developed an information product process model to better understand how information products are created and maintained throughout the life cycle of an information product.Substantiated that information quality has impact on collaborative performance and described how information production processes will impact information quality.Described how role-oriented information production could help to improve information production and information quality in complex project environments.Identified a set of factors that influence information quality, and categorised them as core factors, supporting factors, and external factors.This thesis has substantiated that information production and information quality should be taken into consideration when complex organisational environments are analysed. Further, the thesis has substantiated that more research should be carried out to investigate the importance of information quality on organisational performance and collaboration, as well as to investigate how information production should be carried out to ensure production and distribution of high quality information products. The theoretical foundation for the elements of information production should be strengthened and developed further by further research.