Interactions, improvisations and arrangements in the process of informing.

  • Alistair M. Preston

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is an exploratory study of the process of informing among a group of managers directly involved in the daily operations of a manufacturing plant. In addition to describing and analysing the process of informing itself, the thesis depicts the process of the entire research act. I define the process of informing as an interpretative process whereby managers assign meaning to data or "mere" information (processed data) gathered or received from official documented information, meetings, personal records, observations and particularly interactions. The managers thereby construct a definition of the situation and act or select a course of action on the basis of that definition. I introduce the concept of improvisation, derived from the music and literature of Jazz, to depict the process whereby managers construct or create a novel, innovative course of action in a situation which is defined to be unfamiliar, and for which there is no behavioural precedent. I introduce the concept of loosely coupled shared arrangements, to depict the process by which managers align their individual courses of action and thus enter into joint or concerted action. These arrangements, through frequent occurrence, may appear as semi-permanent structural units which give form and structure to the organisation. I define informant networks as shared arrangements to inform, where managers rely on each other to supply them with reliable, accurate and timely information. Finally, I adopt a critical stand towards the traditional view of management information systems. Firstly, I argue that the MIS may only be viewed as being part of the overall process of informing and not as constituting the whole of it. Secondly, I suggest that the MIS produces "mere" information which is not imbued with meaning until the manager's interpretative process is brought into play. Finally, I question the assumptions about choice and the nature of organisation reality underpinning the traditional view of management information systems.
Date of Award1982
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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