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The network of souces available in business can be plotted in a matrix of formal/informal against external/internal dimensions
The previous article examined the kinds of information sought by managers and the ways in which they use it. This issue of Management Decision is largely concerned with the sources of this information. Our main purpose is to provide a guide to formal published sources, both print and electronic, but some consideration of alternative sources is also called for. Accordingly, this article will begin with an overview of all types of information sources, followed by a discussion of informal sources of information and other alternatives to formal publications.
A typology of information sources
The following shows the main ways which have been proposed for classifying information sources, arranged by format, status and location: (1) Format:
* Oral vs Documentary.
* Textual vs Audio-visual/multimedia.
* Paper-based vs Electronic. (2) Status:
* Personal vs Impersonal.
* Formal vs Informal.
* Published/ vs Unpublished/
open confidential/secret. (3) Location:
* Internal vs External.
The meanings of most terms are obvious, but two of the pairs call for comment. Personal sources are those which deliver information to the individual manager, whereas impersonal sources communicate to groups or wide audiences, usually through some formal system. A manager's personal sources include organizational colleagues, superiors and subordinates; and external professional and other contacts. Impersonal sources include published books, newspapers and journals, radio and TV broadcasts, the company's annual report and accounts, and in-house computerized management information systems. Formal sources may be defined as those which are constituted in some regularized or legal manner in relation to the user, whereas informal sources have no such basis. Formal sources are often also impersonal, and informal sources are likewise often personal; and so at first sight the …