This thesis is an autoethnography exploring the engagement of records management (RM) through the vehicle of a computer mediated communication (CMC) focused co-operative inquiry. CMC is defined as, “communication that takes place between human beings via the instrumentality of computers” (Herring, 1996, p.81). The PhD stance was that with the advent of new technologies, such as CMC, the role and place of RM has been challenged. RM practitioners needed to evaluate their principles and practice in order to discover why RM is not uniformly understood and also why it fails to engage many CMC users and information professionals. The majority of today’s information is generated as the result of unstructured communications (AIIM, 2005 and 2006) that no longer have a fixed reality but exist across fragmented globalised spaces through the Cloud, Web 2.0 and software virtualisation. Organisational boundaries are permanently perforated and the division between public and private spaces are blurred. Traditional RM has evolved in highly structured organisational information environments. Nevertheless, RM could lie at the heart of the processes required for dealing with this splintered data. RM takes a holistic approach to information management, establishing the legislative requirements, technical requirements and the training and support for individuals to communicate effectively, simultaneously transmitting and processing the communications for maximum current and ongoing organisational benefits. However RM is not uniformly understood or practiced. The focus of the thesis was to understand how RM engagement can and should be achieved. The research was conducted by establishing a co-operative inquiry consisting of 82 international co-researchers, from a range of disciplines, investigating the question, ‘How do organisations maximise the information potential of CMC for organisational benefit, taking into account the impact of the individual?” The PhD established a novel approach to co-operative inquiry by separating, managing and merging three groups of co-researchers (UK Records Managers, UK CMC users, international Records Managers and CMC users). I was embedded as a co-researcher within this wider inquiry personally exploring as an autoethnography the relevance of RM to the wider research question, the ability of RM practitioners to advocate for RM and the co-researchers’ responses to the place of RM within this context. The thesis makes several contributions to the research field. It examines how records managers and RM principles and practice engaged through the inquiry, articulating the reasons why users sometimes failed to engage with RM principles and practice, and what assists users to successfully engage with RM. It was found that national perspectives and drivers were more significant as to whether or not individuals engaged with RM concepts than age, gender or professional experience. In addition, users engaged with RM when it was naturally embedded within processes. In addition, as a result of the inquiry’s discussions and actions, the thesis suggests that RM principles and practice need to be refined, for example in regards to the characteristics that define a record. In this respect it concludes that there is rarely likely to be an original archival record surviving through time given the need for migration. The research delivered a novel approach to co-operative inquiry whereby merging groups through time produced new learning at each merger point. The thesis recommends further research to build upon its findings.
|Publication status||In preparation - Jul 2013|