Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 27 Number 3 2010 pp. 211-240

Task and Social Information Seeking: Whom Do We Prefer and Whom Do We Approach?

Xu, Yunjie, Kim, Hee-Woong, and Kankanhalli, Atreyi

ABSTRACT: Employee information-seeking behavior shapes the formation of organizational communication networks and affects performance. However, it is not easy to facilitate, particularly through information technology, and its motivations are not well understood. Recognizing two broad categories of information-that is, task and social information-this study investigates and compares the antecedents of task and social information seeking. Deriving from the relational communication perspective, informational and relational motivations are modeled as the two main antecedents of source preference and sourcing frequency in dyadic information seeking. Through a survey of employee dyads, our findings indicate that perceived information relevance is a significant antecedent of source preference for both task and social information seeking, whereas perceived relational benefit is significant in the context of task information. The results also show that perceived relational benefit has a stronger effect on source preference in task information seeking than in social information seeking. Furthermore, preference for a source is a significant antecedent of the frequency of sourcing in both contexts. This study provides an explanation of the formation of organizational communication networks. It suggests that organizational information and communication technologies not only need to support information delivery but must also facilitate relationship management for the seeker.

Key words and phrases: perceived information relevance, perceived relational benefit, preference for source, social information seeking, sourcing frequency, task information seeking