Task complexity affects information use: A questionnaire study in city administration

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction. The purpose of this paper is to study information types in the context of simple, semi-complex and complex tasks in city administration. Task complexity has proved an important aspect of information seeking practices. Method. Employees of a city administration completed questionnaires when initiating and finishing their work tasks. Questions concerned task complexity, information use, task performer's role and a priori determinability of the task, for instance. Analysis. The data comprised of fifty-nine tasks performed by six participants. The tasks were divided in categories based on their perceived complexity. Thereafter, information types expected at the beginning of the tasks and materialised at the end were statistically analysed within and between complexity categories. Results. The study found that task complexity affects information use significantly. Our results partly corroborate earlier findings by Byström in partly the same organizational setting. Her findings concerned only materialised use, whereas we analysed expected use and differences between these two, as well. Conclusions. The more complex the task, the less facts and the more information aggregates are used. The use of known-items was independent of task complexity. Overall, external information is used little but more in complex than in simple tasks.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number592
    JournalInformation Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 2

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Library and Information Sciences


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