The role of information in strategic decision-making

As readers of this blog will have gathered I am fascinated by the process of decision making. I highlighted a very good new book on the subject recently and my new Research Note on information management strategy also has a strong decision focus, as does my latest CMSWire column in which I suggest that search is a Decision Support System.

I am engaged in a project to build up a (digital) library of research into intranets and related topics and was delighted to find a paper this morning by Dr. Charles Citroen on the role of information in strategic decision-making. Not only was the subject of interest but I’ve known Charles for virtually my entire career in the information business. The paper, which is published in the November 2011 issue of the International Journal of Information Management, is based on a PhD that Charles embarked on as something interesting to do once he retired. In the paper Charles comments about how little research has been carried out about the way in which information can influence decisions, which comes as a relief that I have not missed any important research papers.

The paper is based on interviews with 16 senior executives in science-based companies in the Netherlands and Germany. An outcome of this work was the development of the flow of information in the process of making a decision, rather along the lines that Dale Roberts and Rooven Pakkiri propose in their book. From the interviews it does seem to be the case that senior executives at Board level are insulated from the challenges of finding information by their support staff and so may not appreciate the challenges faced by managers. There is also the observation that speed of decision making has not been reduced by IT systems as there is now more information available to review. A major concern of the executives was about the quality of the information that was available to them.

No firm conclusions emerge from the research though there are some very interesting quotes from the interviews about the experiences and attitudes of senior executives regarding information which never emerge from interviews in Fortune or the Financial Times. There is a very good bibliography to the paper. The paper can either be downloaded as a pdf from the Elsevier site for a fee, or you can download  the thesis and a doc. file of the paper from links on Charles’s website.

Martin White