Workplace Information Practices among Human Resources Professionals: Discursive Boundaries in Action

Publisher:
University of Sheffield
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Information Research, 2012, 17 (3), pp. 1 - 18
Issue Date:
2012-01
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Introduction. This paper reports on a case study that examines the discursive values, norms and boundaries that shape information practices among human resources professionals. Its findings have broader implications for an understanding of the social construction of information practices and the boundary dynamics between communities of practice. Method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty members of a corporate human resources department. Analysis. The data were analysed through a qualitative, discourse analytic approach. Participants played an active role in the analysis process through follow-up interviews and e-mail correspondence. Results. The study's findings show how two competing discourses within the field of human resources practice (human resource management and personnel management) manifest themselves in the information practices of human resources professionals. Two distinct communities of practice were found to engage in different information practices, shaped by different discursive values and norms. The study's analysis highlights discursive boundary setting between the two communities and suggests that this dynamic hindered the establishment of a trustful collaborative relationship. Conclusions. An understanding of the discursive boundary relations that operate in specific domains of practice can help to explain patterns of information seeking, sharing and use. The paper encourages further research into the discursive nature of boundary relations.
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