Fatal Flaws in Information Sharing

Dr. Christine B. Williams,
Dr. Jane Fedorowicz,
Dr. Janis L. Gogan
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This paper examines interorganizational information-sharing issues in three fatal incidents, which varied in terms of decision-making time pressure, relationship formality, and IT-intensity and sophistication. The three incidents are:

• Jesica Santillan Transplant Error: high time pressure; formal roles and relationships; medium IT-intensity and IT sophistication.

• Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster: moderate time pressure; somewhat formal roles and relationships; high IT intensity and IT sophistication.

• Rhode Island Nightclub Fire: low time-pressure; informal roles and relationships; low IT intensity and IT sophistication.

In all three incidents, ineffective real-time information-sharing contributed to the tragedy. We describe and examine issues in the management of each incident's human, information, and technology resources, as summarized below:

People (Information creators, disseminators, users)

Descriptions: Roles of Individuals (skills, status, style); Relationships (trust, collaboration); Organization (norms, authority structures, policies, sanctions/rewards)

Information (Facts, inferences, opinions stored or communicated via paper, personal communication, or online)

Measures: Correctness (accurate, complete, consistent); Timeliness; Relevance; Fitness for Use (e.g., understandability)

Technology (Tools for data processing, e.g., hardware, software, and for communication, e.g., network, information-sharing protocols)

Measures: Criticality (importance of technology for capturing, communicating or analyzing information in this scenario.); Accessibility (locally, globally)

Based on our analysis of each resource's role in these three incidents, we offer several recommendations for improving interorganizational collaborators' ability to discern meaningful information in shared data and to act appropriately upon the insights in a timely manner. We discuss how these findings can help reduce the incidence of fatal information-sharing flaws and increase the benefits of technology-supported interorganizational collaboration.

Keywords: Information Sharing, Interorganizational Systems, Decision-making, Collaboration
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability, Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Fatal Flaws in Information Sharing

Dr. Christine B. Williams

Professor of Government, Political Science Department, Bentley College

Christine Williams is a published scholar whose research explores the role and impact of the Internet on American politics. A grant from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy supported her studies of the e-campaign for U.S. Senate, which appeared in the Journal of Political Marketing. Other work includes a comparative study of web based issue advocacy by corporations and nonprofits and an analysis of corporate web site response to September 11th. Currently, she is conducting national surveys to understand Meetup as a political organizing tool in the 2004 presidential election (http://www.MeetupSurvey.com). During academic year 2004-5 Dr Williams will be a visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of E-Government and has been a peer reviewer for the Social Science Computer Review and the Journal of Political Marketing, among others. Interviews by Dr Williams have appeared in national and regional media outlets. Recent newspaper coverage includes USA Today, The Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and Hartford Courant. CNN and New England Cable News (NECN) have run stories about her current Meetup research, and she has been a guest on programs for Wisconsin public radio and Denver's KHOW. Electronic media credits include CBS MarketWatch and PoliticsOnline. A Professor of Government at Bentley College since 1986, Dr Williams teaches a course on Media and Politics. She holds a B.A. from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), and her M.A. and PhD from Indiana University. Dr Williams currently resides in Chelmsford, MA. Her homepage is available at http://ecampus.bentley.edu/dept/bps/Faculty/cwilliams.htm and her faculty profile is available at http://www.bentley.edu/research/faculty_research/faculty_detail.cfm?id=2889.

Dr. Jane Fedorowicz

Department of Accountancy, Bentley College

Jane Fedorowicz, the Rae D. Anderson Chair of Accounting and Information Systems, holds a joint appointment in the Accountancy and Computer Information Systems departments at Bentley College. Professor Fedorowicz earned MS and PhD degrees in Systems Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University. She currently serves as principal investigator of the Bentley Invision Project, an international research team housed at Bentley College examining the expected and unintended impacts of interorganizational information sharing and the coordination infrastructures supporting these relationships. The project encompasses multi-organizational case studies in four industry settings: government (G-to-B commerce), health care (HIPAA and eHealth), retail (supply chain), and emergency response (first responder networks). Professor Fedorowicz has published over 70 articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings, including Communications of AIS, Communications of the ACM, Decision Support Systems, Decision Sciences, Information and Management, Journal of Information Systems, Journal of Management Information Systems, and many others. The American Accounting Association recognized Professor Fedorowicz with the 1997 Notable Contribution to the Information Systems Literature Award, and she was selected as Bentley College’s Scholar of the Year for 2000.

Dr. Janis L. Gogan

CIS Department, Bentley College

Janis L. Gogan received her Ed.M., M.B.A., and D.B.A.degrees from Harvard University. At Bentley College she teaches graduate courses in information technology management. In January 2005 she will lead a group of graduate students on a two-week tour of India for a course titled “Impact of Technology and Culture on Business In and With India.”

Professor Gogan has appeared before various academic and trade groups to speak on topics such as eCommerce strategy and strategic management of emerging information technologies. For several years she contributed a column, titled “Benchmarks,” for Information Week, in which she discussed IT-related events and issues from the perspective of an organization’s senior management team. Professor Gogan has conducted extensive research on the management of complex IT projects, management of emerging technologies, inter-organizational systems, and electronic commerce strategy.

The recipient of the Bentley College Scholar of the Year Award in 2001, Dr. Gogan has written numerous Harvard Business School cases, including several best-sellers which have been taught in MBA programs in the U.S, Europe, and Asia. Her research has been published in Communications of the Association for Information Systems, the International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Journal of Information Technology Cases and Applications, Journal of Management Information Systems, and other refereed journals. Currently, Professor Gogan is conducting several research projects which focus on technical, strategic, and social issues in the use of inter-organizational information sharing systems in health care, first-responder networks, and other settings where professionals rely on rapid access to accurate and relevant information. And, she has just launched a study of IT-enabled social and business change in India.

Ref: T05P0164