Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Embargo Date

7-16-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Library and Information Science

Advisor(s)

Mueller, Milton

Keywords

Developing World, Knowleodge for Development, Knowloedge Creation, PSI Utilization and Value, Public Sector Information (PSI), South Africa

Subject Categories

Library and Information Science

Abstract

Although there appears to be a broad recognition of the key role that Public Sector Information (PSI) can play in the development of societies, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of how PSI is actually being utilized and of its wider societal value, especially in developing countries. The overarching goal of this dissertation was to analyze the PSI utilization process within the knowledge creation context and the factors and conditions that affect its value and usability from the user perspective. More specifically, the thesis investigates the PSI-related factors and conditions that facilitate or hinder the utilization process, as well as the PSI attributes that affect its usefulness and value in two organizations working on social and economic development issues in South Africa: the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). The dissertation uses the information management process framework (Choo, 1995) and the information value-in-use framework (Repo, 1986) to guide the study's design, data collection, data analysis, and presentation of the results. Employing a qualitative approach, a single case study was used to gather data through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, informal interviews, and document review. The study demonstrates that in their attempts to find and acquire the PSI needed for their work, the study participants faced a wide range of technical, institutional, and political obstacles and challenges. The study also demonstrates that several of the assumptions in the literature about PSI-related policies and resources were not applicable to a developing country. Despite these access challenges and issues related to PSI quality, the utilized PSI resources were still instrumental to the knowledge creation processes at the study sites and to the overall socioeconomic development of the country. The study concludes that in addition to the progressive legislation on information access and use in South Africa, effective PSI utilization for knowledge creation and development requires defined and clear national standards and mechanisms to ensure that the policies and guidelines are adhered to, and that the bureaucratic restrictions on information access and use are minimal. It also requires the development of an organizational culture that is sensitive to the value of its information assets and the effective management of relations with users. It is hoped that this effort can help PSI holders in South Africa and elsewhere to create more enabling environments so that the value of these resources can be maximized

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